[re.coil] vi [ME reculen, fr. MF reculer, fr. re- + cul backside--more at culet] (14c) 1 a: to fall back under pressure b: to shrink back physically or emotionally
2: to spring back to or as if to a starting point: rebound 3 obs: degenerate syn recoil, shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail mean to draw back in fear or distaste. recoil implies a start or movement away through shock, fear, or disgust "recoiled at the suggestion of stealing". shrink suggests an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice "shrank from the unpleasant truth". flinch implies a failure to endure pain or face something dangerous or frightening with resolution "faced her accusers without flinching". wince suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction (as a start or recoiling) "winced in pain". blench implies fainthearted flinching "stood their ground without blenching". quail suggests shrinking and cowering in fear "quailed before the apparition".
re.coil n (14c) 1: the act or action of recoiling; esp: the kickback of a gun upon firing
2: reaction "the ~ from the rigors of Calvinism --Edmund Wilson"