[ verb ri-koil; noun ree-koil, ri-koil ]
/ verb rɪˈkɔɪl; noun ˈriˌkɔɪl, rɪˈkɔɪl /

verb (used without object)

to draw back; start or shrink back, as in alarm, horror, or disgust.
to spring or fly back, as in consequence of force of impact or the force of the discharge, as a firearm.
to spring or come back; react (usually followed by on or upon): Plots frequently recoil upon the plotters.
Physics. (of an atom, a nucleus, or a particle) to undergo a change in momentum as a result either of a collision with an atom, a nucleus, or a particle or of the emission of a particle.


an act of recoiling.
the distance through which a weapon moves backward after discharging.

Origin of recoil

1175–1225; Middle English recoilen, reculen (v.) < Old French reculer, equivalent to re- re- + -culer, verbal derivative of cul rump, buttocks; see culet

Related forms

re·coil·ing·ly, adverbnon·re·coil, noun

Can be confused

re-coil recoil

Synonym study

1. See wince1.

Definition for recoil (2 of 2)


[ ree-koil ]
/ riˈkɔɪl /

verb (used with or without object)

to coil again.

Origin of re-coil

First recorded in 1860–65; re- + coil1

Can be confused

re-coil recoil Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for recoil

British Dictionary definitions for recoil


verb (rɪˈkɔɪl) (intr)

to jerk back, as from an impact or violent thrust
(often foll by from) to draw back in fear, horror, or disgustto recoil from the sight of blood
(foll by on or upon) to go wrong, esp so as to hurt the perpetrator
(of a nucleus, atom, molecule, or elementary particle) to change momentum as a result of the emission of a photon or particle

noun (rɪˈkɔɪl, ˈriːkɔɪl)

Derived Forms

recoiler, noun

Word Origin for recoil

C13: from Old French reculer, from re- + cul rump, from Latin cūlus
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