re·​sis·​tance | \ ri-ˈzi-stən(t)s How to pronounce resistance (audio) \

Definition of resistance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an act or instance of resisting : opposition
b : a means of resisting
2 : the power or capacity to resist: such as
a : the inherent ability of an organism to resist harmful influences (such as disease, toxic agents, or infection)
b : the capacity of a species or strain of microorganism to survive exposure to a toxic agent (such as a drug) formerly effective against it
3 : an opposing or retarding force
4a : the opposition offered by a body or substance to the passage through it of a steady electric current
b : a source of resistance
5 : a psychological defense mechanism wherein a patient rejects, denies, or otherwise opposes the therapeutic efforts of a psychotherapist
6 often capitalized : an underground organization of a conquered or nearly conquered country engaging in sabotage and secret operations against occupation forces and collaborators



Definition of resistance (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or being exercise involving pushing or pulling against a source of resistance (such as a weight) to increase strength resistance training

Synonyms & Antonyms for resistance

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of resistance in a Sentence

Noun They have shown a stubborn resistance to change. The troops met heavy resistance as they approached the city. The paint shows good weather resistance. Over time the patient could develop a resistance to the drug.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Other changes are more nuanced, like reducing a tire’s rolling resistance, which is the friction between the tires and the road that a vehicle has to overcome to move. Sean Mcdonnell, cleveland, 6 Aug. 2022 Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Prime & Set Mist won us over with its light hydrating mist, water-resistance, and stellar performance in all of our tests. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 5 Aug. 2022 Nation-state cyberattacks and cybercriminals generally seek out the path of least resistance, which is why software supply chain jacking is a growing threat. Tony Bradley, Forbes, 31 July 2022 As oceanographer John Englander writes in his 2021 book Moving to Higher Ground, the choices available to populations confronted with rising seas are inaction, adaptation, resistance, or retreat. Taras Grescoe, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 July 2022 This is good news, as right now the World Bank estimates that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development. Wired, 22 July 2022 The new scheduling model has been met with mostly positive reviews, but there has been some fan resistance to the loss of annual rivalry games, most notably Wake Forest and NC State. David Thompson, USA TODAY, 20 July 2022 Nonetheless, the potential for new prospecting has inspired a visible public resistance, a jobs vs. community character debate, that at its heart asks whether the Golden State really needs gold anymore. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, 17 July 2022 The island — shrouded in myth since ancient times — early on took on legendary significance for Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion, when Ukrainian troops there reportedly received a demand from a Russian warship to surrender or be bombed. Francesca Ebel, Anchorage Daily News, 1 July 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of resistance


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1976, in the meaning defined above

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best resistance bands.

Learn More About resistance

Time Traveler for resistance

Time Traveler

The first known use of resistance was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near resistance



resistance box

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for resistance

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Resistance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for resistance


re·​sis·​tance | \ ri-ˈzi-stəns How to pronounce resistance (audio) \

Kids Definition of resistance

1 : an act or instance of opposing
2 : the ability to withstand the force or effect of resistance to disease
3 : an opposing or slowing force The car's sleek design reduces wind resistance.
4 : the opposition offered by a substance to the passage through it of an electric current


re·​sis·​tance | \ ri-ˈzis-tən(t)s How to pronounce resistance (audio) \

Medical Definition of resistance

1a : power or capacity to resist especially : the inherent ability of an organism to resist harmful influences (as disease, toxic agents, or infection)
b : the capacity of a species or strain of microorganism to survive exposure to a toxic agent (as a drug) formerly effective against it due to genetic mutation and selection for and accumulation of genes conferring protection from the agent especially as a result of overuse of the agent which selectively destroys individual microorganisms lacking the protective genes
2a : the opposition offered by a body to the passage through it of a steady electric current
b : opposition or impediment to the flow of a fluid (as blood or respiratory gases) through one or more passages — see vascular resistance
3 : a psychological defense mechanism wherein a psychoanalysis patient rejects, denies, or otherwise opposes therapeutic efforts by the analyst

More from Merriam-Webster on resistance

Nglish: Translation of resistance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of resistance for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about resistance


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!