See more synonyms for backlash on
  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.
verb (used without object)
  1. to make or undergo a backlash.

Origin of backlash

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

British Dictionary definitions for backlashing


  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
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 backlashing



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper