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From Old French reculer.



recoil (plural recoils)

  1. A starting or falling back; a rebound; a shrinking.
    the recoil of nature, or of the blood
  2. The state or condition of having recoiled.
    • F. W. Robertson
      The recoil from formalism is skepticism.
  3. (firearms) The energy transmitted back to the shooter from a firearm which has fired. Recoil is a function of the weight of the weapon, the weight of the projectile, and the speed at which it leaves the muzzle.




recoil (third-person singular simple present recoils, present participle recoiling, simple past and past participle recoiled)

  1. (intransitive, now rare) To retreat before an opponent. [from 14th c.]
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, V.11:
      that rude rout [] forced them, how ever strong and stout / They were, as well approv'd in many a doubt, / Backe to recule []
  2. (obsolete, intransitive) To retire, withdraw. [15th-18th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.x:
      Ye both forwearied be: therefore a whyle / Iread you rest, and to your bowres recoyle.
    • Milton
      Evil on itself shall back recoil.
    • De Quincey
      The solemnity of her demeanor made it impossible [] that we should recoil into our ordinary spirits.
  3. To pull back, especially in disgust, horror or astonishment. [from 16th c.]
    He recoiled in disgust when he saw the mess.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  4. (of a firearm) To kick back when fired

Derived terms[edit]