• synonyms


See more synonyms for backlash on Thesaurus.com
  1. a sudden, forceful backward movement; recoil.
  2. a strong or violent reaction, as to some social or political change: a backlash of angry feeling among Southern conservatives within the party.
  3. Machinery.
    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.
  4. Angling. a snarled line on a reel, usually caused by a faulty cast.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to make or undergo a backlash.
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Origin of backlash

First recorded in 1805–15; back2 + lash1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


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


  1. a reaction or recoil between interacting worn or badly fitting parts in a mechanism
  2. the play between parts
  3. a sudden and adverse reaction, esp to a political or social developmenta public backlash against the government is inevitable
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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

Word Origin and History for backlash


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper