Meaning of RECOIL in English

I. rə̇ˈkȯil, rēˈ-, esp before pause or consonant -ȯiəl verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English reculen, recoilen, from Old French reculer, from re- + cul backside, from Latin culus — more at culet

transitive verb

obsolete : to force back : cause to retreat or withdraw

intransitive verb


a. : to fall or draw back under the impact of force or pressure : undergo a forcing backward

the troops recoiled before the savage onslaught of the enemy

especially : to reel back

recoiled under the heavy blows

b. : to shrink back especially with a sudden movement (as in horror, fear, disgust) : move suddenly backward or away

opened the door and recoiled in terror

2. archaic : to withdraw oneself (as into solitude) : go away or apart : retire

recoiled into the wilderness — William Wordsworth


a. : to spring back : rebound: as

(1) : to fly back (as of a released spring) into an uncompressed position

(2) : to kick back (as of a gun being fired)

b. : to return suddenly to or as if to a source or starting point

their hatred recoiled on themselves

4. obsolete : degenerate


shrink , flinch , wince , blench , quail : recoil may indicate a drawing back, starting back, or swerving backward through fear, shock, or disgust; it may indicate an inner drawing back with emotion

she makes a gesture as if to touch him. He recoils impatiently — G.B.Shaw

he had so great a dread of snakes that he instinctively recoiled at the sight of one — T.B.Costain

shrink indicates an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice

when it came to telling the truth about himself he shrank from the task with all the horror of a well-bred English gentleman — Virginia Woolf

a nervous avoidance of crowds, a shrinking from any change in her secluded manner of living — Ellen Glasgow

to shrink from responsibility is to invite social and economic insecurity — H.G.Armstrong

flinch involves a recoiling, retreating, or evading when one cannot muster up resolution to face the frightening, painful, or revolting

all retreat was cut off, and he looked his fate in the face without flinching — John Burroughs

he raised the head that lay in the dust with cautious strength, fearing that any touch might only be so much more needless pain. But there was no appearance of flinching — W.F.De Morgan

did not flinch from the contemplation of the violent aggression — J.H.Plumb

wince applies to an involuntary starting back or away caused by sensitiveness, dread, fear, or pain

to bring a beaten and degraded look into a man's face, rend manhood out of him in fear, is a sight that makes decent men wince in pain; for it is an outrage on the decency of life, an offense to natural religion, a violation of the human sanctities — G.D.Brown

her eyes winced for a moment as if she had become suddenly afraid — Liam O'Flaherty

he winced as though she had uttered blasphemy — W.J.Locke

blench may refer especially to fainthearted fearful flinching

she had not been prepared for an attack in flank, and blenched before it — Maurice Hewlett

though his death seemed near he did not blench — John Masefield

quail implies cowering and shrinking in fright, consternation, or defeated dejection

despite his professions of sanity and reason, had an inexplicable, invincible horror of death; he quailed at the mere mention of the black phantom — Norman Douglas

I am never known to quail at the fury of a gale — W.S.Gilbert

Synonym: see in addition rebound .

II. “, ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ noun

( -s )


a. : the action of recoiling ; especially : the kickback of a gun upon being fired

b. : the condition of having recoiled ; specifically : reaction

the recoil from formalism is skepticism — F.W.Robertson

2. : the extent to which something (as a gun, spring) recoils

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.