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 Most of us have a good idea of the definition of growth, but resilience is a relatively new addition to our business vocabulary. Allbusiness, Forbes, "Developing Business Resilience: 4 Keys To Success In Uncertain Times," 10 Apr. 2021 Such resilience in many ways is part of the American experience for many Black, Latino, Asian and Native American citizens, experts say. USA Today, "After COVID-19, post-traumatic growth could bring creativity, joy back into your life, but perhaps not until 2024," 8 Apr. 2021 The resilience of her sense of self, through poverty and fame, is transcendent. New York Times, "Brandi Carlile Has Always Seen Herself Clearly. Now It’s Our Turn.," 1 Apr. 2021 Biden’s resilience is as much a part of his brand as his aviator sunglasses and affinity for ice cream. Philip Elliott, Time, "Joe Biden Is Unmatched as America’s Grief Counselor," 24 Mar. 2021 States’ surprising resilience is a hot topic in Congress where the Senate on Saturday passed a $1.9 trillion aid package and sent it back to the House of Representatives. Heather Gillers, WSJ, "States Expected Covid-19 to Bring Widespread Tax Shortfalls. It Didn’t Happen.," 10 Mar. 2021 Detroit ad saluting city's resilience amid COVID-19 is a national hit. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Coronavirus in Michigan: A timeline of how the pandemic unfolded since last year," 9 Mar. 2021 Another misconception is that resilience is a trait. Washington Post, "How to help kids regain their footing after a year of stress and disruption," 2 Mar. 2021 The resilience of the local visual arts community was on full display year-round. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2020 year in review: From Oceanside to San Ysidro, art could still be found in a county in lockdown," 27 Dec. 2020

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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Last Updated

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Resilience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 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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