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 But given the market's resilience in the past several months in the face of a U.S.-China trade war, Brexit drama and fears of a recession ahead, the Dow may well get there soon enough. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Jobs Report Pushes the Dow Above 29,000 For the First Time Ever—But Can’t Keep It There," 10 Jan. 2020 Save the Redwoods League believes that active management will increase the forests’ resilience in the face of increasing wildfire threats, including the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, which causes sudden oak death. Becki Robins, Scientific American, "To Save the Redwoods, Scientists Debate Burning and Logging," 20 Dec. 2019 That isn’t resilience so much as the consequence of poor messaging and conditioning. Michael Arceneaux, Essence, "Joe Biden’s Campaign Keeps Being Celebrated For Its ‘Resilience,’ But What About Bernie Sanders?," 18 Dec. 2019 The tense ending — and the Patriots’ resilience in the fourth quarter, returning in its old familiar form even on a day when little went right beforehand — was remarkable given how bleak the game looked from the second quarter on., "Twenty-three thoughts on the Patriots’ 23-16 loss to the Chiefs . . .," 9 Dec. 2019 But if there's one quality Winston has that even the most vocal of his critics appreciate is the quarterback's resilience. Fred Goodall,, "Winston throws for 456 yards and 4 TDs as Bucs rally for win over Colts," 8 Dec. 2019 These are my recommendations on what can be done to increase climate resilience in agriculture: Reassess marginal crops. Peter Johnston, Quartz Africa, "South Africa’s farms face an existential threat from climate change," 20 Nov. 2019 There’s a lot of resilience in these kids, and in these communities. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "Study uses Ohio data to conclude certain children could see benefits from a parent’s incarceration," 11 Oct. 2019 Their primary concern is the resilience of the forest, rivers, and natural environment around the shrine. Wired, "Philanthropy and the Challenge of Quantifying Success," 30 July 2019

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

25 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Resilience.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for resilience


How to pronounce resilience (audio)

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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Comments on resilience

What made you want to look up resilience? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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