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[bak-lash] /ˈbækˌlæʃ/
a sudden, forceful backward movement; recoil.
a strong or violent reaction, as to some social or political change:
a backlash of angry feeling among Southern conservatives within the party.
  1. the space between the thickness of a gear tooth and the width of the space between teeth in the mating gear, designed to allow for a film of lubricant, binding from heat expansion and eccentricity, or manufacturing inaccuracies.
  2. play or lost motion between loosely fitting machine parts.
Angling. a snarled line on a reel, usually caused by a faulty cast.
verb (used without object)
to make or undergo a backlash.
Origin of backlash
First recorded in 1805-15; back2 + lash1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for backlash
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But he was sure of its source; it had not been any backlash of the Red caller!

    The Defiant Agents Andre Alice Norton
  • The backlash of that blast must have caught the majority of the lights also.

    Star Hunter Andre Alice Norton
  • Extrapolating Russian history, it would be reasonable to expect a backlash in the form of a counterrevolution.

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
  • As these unpleasant truths emerge, the bitterness, resentment and disillusionment will grow and a backlash will develop.

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
British Dictionary definitions for backlash


a reaction or recoil between interacting worn or badly fitting parts in a mechanism
the play between parts
a sudden and adverse reaction, esp to a political or social development: a public backlash against the government is inevitable
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for backlash

1815, of machinery, from back (adj.) + lash (n.). In metaphoric sense, it is attested from 1955.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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