Definition of recoil in English:


Line breaks: re¦coil
Pronunciation: /rɪˈkɔɪl


[no object]
  • 1Suddenly spring or flinch back in fear, horror, or disgust: he recoiled in horror
    More example sentences
    • For some completely unknown reason I hadn't pulled away, or recoiled in disgust and horror.
    • He dropped it suddenly and recoiled with disgust.
    • She pulled away, recoiling suddenly as if she'd been stabbed with a cattle prod.
    draw back, jump back, spring back, jerk back, pull back; flinch, shy away, shrink (back), blench, start, wince, cower, quail
  • 1.1Feel fear, horror, or disgust at the thought of something: Ronni felt herself recoil at the very thought
    More example sentences
    • Refreshingly, she recoils at the idea of that mirage known as ‘quality time’.
    • The theory is that Fraser recoiled from the idea of blaming a widely revered figure, and fellow Westminster alumni, especially one who cannot now defend himself.
    • Some editors have recoiled from the idea, finding it a bit unseemly.
    feel revulsion at, feel disgust at, feel abhorrence at, be unable to bear, be unable to stomach, shrink from, shy away from, baulk at, hesitate at
  • 2Rebound or spring back through force of impact or elasticity: the muscle has the ability to recoil
    More example sentences
    • The principle stress-bearing elements of the lung, which account for its tendency to recoil, are elastin and collagen fiber networks and surface tension.
    • Hence, although we fix the vessel under distension, once the load is removed, the elastin will recoil and consequently have a tortuous geometry.
    • This is due to elastic tendons that stretch and recoil, enabling the animals to ‘bounce’ along the ground like a pogo stick.
  • 2.1(Of a gun) move abruptly backwards as a reaction on firing a bullet, shell, or other missile: the rifle recoiled
    More example sentences
    • One shot bellowed out, and his gun recoiled, jumping backwards from the force of the bullet ripping from its nozzle.
    • The front trigger is articulated to move forward a little when the gun recoils and then you move your finger forward for the right modified barrel.
    • The rifle recoiled as it fired, and the shell exploded about a foot short of the missile.
    kick (back), jerk back, spring back, fly back, jump back
  • 2.2 (recoil on/upon) (Of an action) have an adverse reactive effect on (the originator): if man upsets his planetary ecosystem it will automatically recoil upon him
    More example sentences
    • Stepping forward, threateningly close, he declared: ‘We tell you plainly that what you have said will recoil upon your head.’
    • All suffering recoils on the wrongdoer himself.
    • If I hate my neighbor, the hatred will recoil upon me.
    rebound on, come back on, affect badly; misfire, backfire, boomerang, go wrong, fail to work out, be unsuccessful, go amiss, come to grief, meet with disaster
    archaic redound on


Pronunciation: /also ˈriːkɔɪl
[mass noun] Back to top  
  • The action of recoiling: his body jerked with the recoil of the rifle
    More example sentences
    • The light recoil and modest slide pace lull the shooter into a false sense of security.
    • No matter how well you explain recoil or emphasize proper shooting stance, that first shot is a surprise.
    • The recoil made his shoulder start hurting again.



More example sentences
  • All they need to do is work on a recoilless version and it's a goer.
  • The cheap, portable, recoilless Soviet-designed rocket launcher has long been a favorite of guerrilla armies everywhere, because it evens up the odds against more heavily armed and armored enemies.
  • In addition to the rockets, police collected more then 400 mortar rounds, more than 200 recoilless rifle rounds, 150 machine gun rounds, 75 rocket-propelled grenades and four anti-tank mines.


Middle English (denoting the act of retreating): from Old French reculer 'move back', based on Latin culus 'buttocks'.

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