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From bounce back +‎ -ability (suffix forming nouns indicating an ability, inclination, or suitability for a specified condition or function).[1][2]

Suggestions that the word was coined in 2004 by Iain Dowie (born 1965), then manager of Crystal Palace Football Club,[3] are inaccurate as the Oxford English Dictionary records a quotation dating back to 1972,[1] but Dowie’s use of the word may have caused it to gain in popularity.[4]



bouncebackability (uncountable)

  1. (informal, often sports) The ability to bounce back or recover from bad circumstances.
    Synonym: resilience
    • [1962, Luella Josephine Morison, Mary Agnes Farris, Approaches for Co-workers in Professional Nursing, St. Louis, Mo.: C. V. Mosby Company, →OCLC, page 52, column 2:
      You are able to play the game and to take the wins and losses in your stride. When the losses become too numerous, you will have some "bounce-back" ability and will try again rather than give up or become discouraged.]
    • [1972, The American Home, volume 75, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, →OCLC, page 279, columns 2–3:
      [T]he best of today's furniture fillers, combining the bounce-back-ability of foam with the downy softness of fiber fill.
      A literal use of the word.]
    • 1982, Edmund Fawcett, Tony Thomas, The American Condition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, →ISBN, page 419:
      Mr. [Robert] Schuller, a believer in "bouncebackability," is a clone from the Norman Vincent Peale school of positive thinking.
    • 1991 October 5, The Economist, volume 321, London: Economist Group, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 20, column 2:
      If Mr Dinkins can persuade the unions that it is in their interest to do a deal with a frank friend now rather than an enemy later, New York will again demonstrate its bouncebackability.
    • 2002, Des Dearlove, Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Brand Builder (Big Shots), 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Capstone Publishing, →ISBN, page ix; 3rd edition, Chichester, West Sussex: Capstone Publishing, 2007, →ISBN, page xv:
      One of [Richard] Branson's enduring strengths is his ability to absorb punches, to take the rough with the smooth. He has bouncebackability – lots of it.
    • 2004 October 18, Paula Cocozza, “Everton’s ‘bouncebackability’ falls short”, in Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian[3], London: Guardian News & Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 17 September 2014:
      When Everton were knocked out of the League Cup last week, their manager Mo Marley said: "This will be a great test of the famous Everton bouncebackability."
    • 2005, Peter McConnell, chapter 5, in Cold-blooded Killer, Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, →ISBN, page 117:
      I think about him everyday,[sic] wondering why he gave up, he had so much to live for, he just didn't have that bouncebackability!
    • 2010 December 27, Georgina Turner, “Tevez Inspires against Newcastle; Ten-man Spurs Hold Off Aston Villa”, in Sports Illustrated[4], New York, N.Y.: Meredith Corporation, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 25 April 2020:
      Yet Newcastle drew on impressive reserves of bouncebackability – Tiote [i.e., Cheick Tioté] had his work cut out for him against Yaya Toure (whose snood seems to get a little bigger with every game), but it was the home side that threw most punches.
    • 2011, Phil Ascough, “Newcomers”, in Kissing the Badge: How Much Do You Know about 20 Years of the Premier League?, London: A[dam] & C[harles] Black, →ISBN, page 111:
      Bolton provide the model for bouncebackability. The Lancashire club fought their way to the Premier League in 1995 through the play-offs and in 1997 as Football League champions but on each occasion only lasted a season. A play-off win over Preston North End in 2001 earned a third crack at the Premier League and they have stayed there ever since.

Related terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 bouncebackability, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2006.
  2. ^ bouncebackability, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ See, for example, Daniel Finkelstein (4 December 2004), “Dowie didn’t make it up: ‘bouncebackability’ exists”, in The Times[1], London: News UK, →ISSN, →OCLC; and Peter Hohenhaus (2006), “Bouncebackability: A Web-as-corpus-based Case Study of a New Formation, Its Interpretation, Generalization/Spread and Subsequent Decline”, in SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics[2], volume 3, issue 2, Prešov, Slovakia: Slovak Association for the Study of English and the University Library of the University of Prešov, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2019-08-02, pages 18–19. In the latter article, the author noted: “There can also be found occasional expressions of doubt as to whether Dowie really was the original coiner of the word, but overall there seems to be rather solid agreement. This is only of minor importance for our purposes anyway, where the word’s subsequent development is the focus of attention.” See page 24, footnote 8.
  4. ^ Susie Dent (2007) The Language Report, Oxford, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 78.