re·​sil·​ience | \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s How to pronounce resilience (audio) \

Definition of resilience

1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

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Using Resilience Outside of Physics

In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material (such as rubber or animal tissue) to absorb energy (such as from a blow) and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape. The recovery that occurs in this phenomenon can be viewed as analogous to a person's ability to bounce back after a jarring setback. Author P. G. Wodehouse took note of this when he wrote: "There is in certain men … a quality of resilience, a sturdy refusal to acknowledge defeat, which aids them as effectively in affairs of the heart as in encounters of a sterner and more practical kind." The word resilience derives from the present participle of the Latin verb resilire, meaning "to jump back" or "to recoil." The base of resilire is salire, a verb meaning "to leap" that also pops up in the etymologies of such sprightly words as sally and somersault.

Examples of resilience in a Sentence

… the concert remained a remarkable tribute to Dylan's resilience and continued relevance. — Susan Richardson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994 He squeezed the rubber with a clamp and then released it—demonstrating with this painfully simple experiment that the material lost its resilience and therefore its ability to flex rapidly enough to protect the rocket joint from tumultuous hot gases. — James Gleick, New York Times Book Review, 13 Nov. 1988 With amazing resilience the two tribes pulled together and set out to found a new town farther up the river. — Carolyn Gilman, American Indian Art Magazine, Spring 1988 It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, even by death, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment. — Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897 The rescue workers showed remarkable resilience in dealing with the difficult conditions. Cold temperatures caused the material to lose resilience.
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Recent Examples on the Web This year’s annual Hot List of the best new hotels from around the world is a story of resilience. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Where to Travel Next: 2021 Hot List," 7 May 2021 Conway hopes that her team can tell a different tale of Becker College: not just another small Massachusetts college to close its doors, but a tale of resilience., "Becker College is closing, but its women’s lacrosse team is in its first NCAA Tournament," 6 May 2021 Janine has deep stores of resilience, an ability to find meager bits of happiness in the worst moments. Hillary Kelly, Vulture, "The Handmaid’s Tale Recap: Come On, Feel the Illinoise," 5 May 2021 But keep in mind that surviving this time and coming out of it with a sense of resilience is a major accomplishment. John Duffy, CNN, "Teen stress has been heightened by a year of pandemic. Here's how to help them," 4 May 2021 While defeat can be a natural part of the business process, what differentiates successful entrepreneurs is their resilience in the face of adversity. Forbes Small Business Team, Forbes, "ABOUT," 12 Apr. 2021 However, while mental health has declined in many countries, there has been a surprising resilience in how people rate their lives overall, according to this year's World Happiness Report. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Finland was the world's happiest country again last year despite Covid-19's impact," 19 Mar. 2021 The story is about resilience through struggle, especially as a family. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Yeri Han Honored the Women in Her Family with Minari," 11 Mar. 2021 Her performance, solidified what the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 showed us: that there is hope, there is resilience., "Black History Month Voices: Oyin Adedoyin | Commentary," 23 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'resilience.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of resilience

1807, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for resilience

see resilient

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Time Traveler for resilience

Time Traveler

The first known use of resilience was in 1807

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Statistics for resilience

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Resilience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for resilience



English Language Learners Definition of resilience

: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.


re·​sil·​ience | \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s How to pronounce resilience (audio) \

Medical Definition of resilience

1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change emotional resilience

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