[ verb ri-koil; noun ree-koil, ri-koil ]
See synonyms for: recoilre-coiledre-coilingre-coils on

verb (used without object)
  1. to draw back; start or shrink back, as in alarm, horror, or disgust.

  2. to spring or fly back, as in consequence of force of impact or the force of the discharge, as a firearm.

  1. to spring or come back; react (usually followed by on or upon): Plots frequently recoil upon the plotters.

  2. 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.

  1. an act of recoiling.

  2. 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

synonym study For recoil

1. See wince1.

Other words for recoil

Other words from recoil

  • re·coil·ing·ly, adverb
  • non·re·coil, noun

Words that may be confused with recoil

Words Nearby recoil

Other definitions for re-coil (2 of 2)

[ ree-koil ]

verb (used with or without object)
  1. to coil again.

Origin of re-coil

First recorded in 1860–65; re- + coil1

Words that may be confused with re-coil Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use recoil in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for recoil


verb(rɪˈkɔɪl) (intr)
  1. to jerk back, as from an impact or violent thrust

  2. (often foll by from) to draw back in fear, horror, or disgust: to recoil from the sight of blood

  1. (foll by on or upon) to go wrong, esp so as to hurt the perpetrator

  2. (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)
    • the backward movement of a gun when fired

    • the distance moved

  1. the motion acquired by a particle as a result of its emission of a photon or other particle

  1. the act of recoiling

Origin of recoil

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

Derived forms of recoil

  • recoiler, noun

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