What does recoil mean?

Definitions for recoil
rɪˈkɔɪl; ˈriˌkɔɪl, rɪˈkɔɪlre·coil

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word recoil.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. recoil, kicknoun

    the backward jerk of a gun when it is fired

  2. recoil, repercussion, rebound, backlashverb

    a movement back from an impact

  3. flinch, squinch, funk, cringe, shrink, wince, recoil, quailverb

    draw back, as with fear or pain

    "she flinched when they showed the slaughtering of the calf"

  4. backfire, backlash, recoilverb

    come back to the originator of an action with an undesired effect

    "Your comments may backfire and cause you a lot of trouble"

  5. bounce, resile, take a hop, spring, bound, rebound, recoil, reverberate, ricochetverb

    spring back; spring away from an impact

    "The rubber ball bounced"; "These particles do not resile but they unite after they collide"

  6. kick back, recoil, kickverb

    spring back, as from a forceful thrust

    "The gun kicked back into my shoulder"


  1. recoilnoun

    The amount of energy transmitted back to the shooter from a firearm which has fired. Recoil is a function of the weight of the weapon, the weight of the projectile, and the speed at which it leaves the muzzle.

  2. recoilverb

    To pull back, especially in disgust, horror or astonishment.

    He recoiled in disgust when he saw the mess.

  3. recoilverb

    To retire, withdraw.

  4. Etymology: From reculer.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Recule

    for Recoil.

    Etymology: reculer, Fr.

    Edmund Spenser.

  2. To Recoilverb

    Etymology: reculer, Fr.

    The very thought of my revenges that way
    Recoil upon me; in himself too mighty. William Shakespeare.

    Revenge, at first though sweet,
    Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils. John Milton.

    Amazement seiz’d
    All th’ host of heav’n, back they recoil ’d, afraid
    At first. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. ii.

    Evil on itself shall back recoil. John Milton.

    Who in deep mines for hidden knowledge toils,
    Like guns o’ercharg’d breaks, misses or recoils. John Denham.

    My hand’s so soft, his heart so hard,
    The blow recoils, and hurts me while I strike! Dryden.

    Whatever violence may be offered to nature, by endeavouring to reason men into a contrary persuasion, nature will still recoil, and at last return to itself. John Tillotson.

    Ye both forewearied be; therefore a while
    I read you rest, and to your bowers recoil. Fairy Queen.

    Ten paces huge
    He back recoil’d; the tenth on bended knee,
    His massy spear upstay’d. John Milton, Par. Lost, b. vi.

    A good and virtuous nature may recoil
    In an imperial charge. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.


  1. Recoil

    Recoil (often called knockback, kickback or simply kick) is the rearward thrust generated when a gun is being discharged. In technical terms, the recoil is a result of conservation of momentum, as according to Newton's third law the force required to accelerate something will evoke an equal but opposite reactional force, which means the forward momentum gained by the projectile and exhaust gases (ejectae) will be mathematically balanced out by an equal and opposite momentum exerted back upon the gun. In hand-held small arms, the recoil momentum will be eventually transferred to the ground, but will do so through the body of the shooter hence resulting in a noticeable impulse commonly referred to as a "kick". In heavier mounted guns, such as heavy machine guns or artillery pieces, recoil momentum is transferred to the Earth's surface through the platform on which the weapon is mounted. In order to bring the rearward moving gun to a halt, the momentum acquired by the gun is dissipated by a forward-acting counter-recoil force applied to the gun over a period of time after the projectile exits the muzzle. To apply this counter-recoiling force, modern mounted guns may employ recoil buffering comprising springs and hydraulic recoil mechanisms, similar to shock-absorbing suspension on automobiles. Early cannons used systems of ropes along with rolling or sliding friction to provide forces to slow the recoiling cannon to a stop. Recoil buffering allows the maximum counter-recoil force to be lowered so that strength limitations of the gun mount are not exceeded. Gun chamber pressures and projectile acceleration forces are tremendous, on the order of tens to hundreds megapascal and tens of thousands of times the acceleration of gravity (g's), both necessary to launch the projectile at useful velocity during the very short travel distance of the barrel. However, the same pressures acting on the base of the projectile are acting on the rear face of the gun chamber, accelerating the gun rearward during firing. Practical weight gun mounts are typically not strong enough to withstand the maximum forces accelerating the projectile during the short time the projectile is in the barrel, typically only a few milliseconds. To mitigate these large recoil forces, recoil buffering mechanisms spread out the counter-recoiling force over a longer time, typically ten to a hundred times longer than the duration of the forces accelerating the projectile. This results in the required counter-recoiling force being proportionally lower, and easily absorbed by the gun mount. Modern cannons also employ muzzle brakes very effectively to redirect some of the propellant gasses rearward after projectile exit. This provides a counter-recoiling force to the barrel, allowing the buffering system and gun mount to be more efficiently designed at even lower weight. Recoilless guns also exist where much of the high pressure gas remaining in the barrel after projectile exit is vented rearward though a nozzle at the back of the chamber, creating a large counter-recoiling force sufficient to eliminate the need for heavy recoil mitigating buffers on the mount. The same physics principles affecting recoil in mounted guns also applies to hand-held guns. However, the shooter's body assumes the role of gun mount, and must similarly dissipate the gun's recoiling momentum over a longer period of time than the bullet travel-time in the barrel, in order not to injure the shooter. Hands, arms and shoulders have considerable strength and elasticity for this purpose, up to certain practical limits. Nevertheless, "perceived" recoil limits vary from shooter to shooter, depending on body size, the use of recoil padding, individual pain tolerance, the weight of the firearm, and whether recoil buffering systems and muzzle devices (muzzle brake or suppressor) are employed. For this reason, establishing recoil safety standards for small arms remains challenging, in spite of the straightforward physics involved.


  1. recoil

    Recoil is the backwards movement or kick experienced by an object, particularly a firearm, when it expels a projectile or gas at a high velocity. It is a result of the conservation of momentum, where the propulsion force generated by expelling the projectile is balanced by an equal and opposite reaction force causing the recoil. Recoil can also refer to the emotional or psychological response to a traumatic event or a negative experience.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Recoilverb

    to start, roll, bound, spring, or fall back; to take a reverse motion; to be driven or forced backward; to return

  2. Recoilverb

    to draw back, as from anything repugnant, distressing, alarming, or the like; to shrink

  3. Recoilverb

    to turn or go back; to withdraw one's self; to retire

  4. Recoilverb

    to draw or go back

  5. Recoilnoun

    a starting or falling back; a rebound; a shrinking; as, the recoil of nature, or of the blood

  6. Recoilnoun

    the state or condition of having recoiled

  7. Recoilnoun

    specifically, the reaction or rebounding of a firearm when discharged

  8. Etymology: [OE. recoilen, F. reculer, fr. L. pref. re- re- + culus the fundament. The English word was perhaps influenced in form by accoil.]


  1. Recoil

    Recoil is the backward momentum of a gun when it is discharged. In technical terms, the recoil caused by the gun exactly balances the forward momentum of the projectile and exhaust gasses, according to Newton's third law. In most small arms, the momentum is transferred to the ground through the body of the shooter; while in heavier guns such as mounted machine guns or cannons, the momentum is transferred to the ground through its mount. In order to bring the gun to a halt, a forward counter-recoil force must be applied to the gun over a period of time. Generally, the counter-recoil force is smaller than the recoil force, and is applied over a time period that is longer than the time that the recoil force is being applied. This imbalance of forces causes the gun to move backward until it is motionless. A change in momentum results in a force, which according to Newton's second law is equal to the time derivative of the momentum of the gun. The momentum is equal to the mass of the gun multiplied by its velocity. This backward momentum is equal in magnitude, by the law of conservation of momentum, to the forward momentum of the ejecta from the gun. If the mass and velocity of the ejecta are known, it is possible to calculate a gun’s momentum and thus the energy. In practice, it is often simpler to derive the gun’s energy directly with a reading from a ballistic pendulum or ballistic chronograph.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Recoil

    rē-koil′, v.t. to start back: to rebound: to return: to shrink from.—n. a starting or springing back: rebound: an escapement in which after each beat the escape-wheel recoils slightly.—n. Recoil′er, one who recoils.—adj. Recoil′ing.—adv. Recoil′ingly.—n. Recoil′ment. [Fr. reculer—L. re-, back, Fr. cul, the hinder part—L. culus.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. recoil

    The running in of a gun when discharged, which backward motion is caused by the force of the fire.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. recoil

    In gunnery, is the retrograde motion impressed upon cannon by the discharge. The gas produced by the ignition of the charge in the bore, expanding with equal force in every direction, finds only two ways of escape (the muzzle and the vent); the pressure upon these points will therefore cease while it will be proportionally increased upon the parts directly opposite, that is, the bottom of the bore and that portion directly opposite the vent, producing in the first case the recoil, and in the other, indirectly, the dipping of the muzzle. The distance of the recoil depends entirely upon the nature and inclination of the ground upon which the carriage stands, the situation of the trunnions, angle of elevation, comparative weight of the gun and carriage, and upon the strength of the charge. The recoil has no appreciable effect upon the flight of a projectile, the latter being expelled from the gun before it has recoiled a fraction of an inch.

Suggested Resources

  1. recoil

    Song lyrics by recoil -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by recoil on the Lyrics.com website.

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How to pronounce recoil?

How to say recoil in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of recoil in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of recoil in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of recoil in a Sentence

  1. Pam Richardson:

    I mean it literally just shot and you could hear it just like a gunshot, it had recoil and everything and it just shot me straight up in the face, this part hit here and all my teeth in the front were broken.

  2. Arthur Conan Doyle:

    Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.

  3. General Daniel Cameron:

    I think, for far too long, Black Democrats have tried to ask folks that look like me to vote in one specific way, and if you don't, and if you express a difference of opinion or thought, then they recoil at that, and they give you a lot of grief on Twitter and other social media platforms, but I hope what I've demonstrated, whether in my time as running for attorney general and winning that race, or even now as I run for governor, is that here in Kentucky we don't care what you look like, we care about your values.

  4. Nick Lowe:

    It's a bit like seeing a silly film of yourself a bit drunk at a party and being forced to watch it. You recoil somewhat, it's not a place I like to go back to, reliving the old days, (though) I have a degree of affection for the little twit.

  5. Mark Dubowitz:

    If past is prologue, the regime will always move aggressively forward when it senses American weakness and recoil when it sensed American strength.

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Translations for recoil

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • rekylDanish
  • Rückstoß, zurückschreckenGerman
  • echarse atrás, retrocesoSpanish
  • پس زدنPersian
  • rekyyli, hätkähtääFinnish
  • bakslátturFaroese
  • reculer, reculFrench
  • rinculoItalian
  • 反動, 後座, 跳ね返るJapanese
  • etiMāori
  • terugdeinzen, terugschrikken, terugslag, terugtrekkenDutch
  • tilbakevirkning, rekyl, rekylere, spenne tilbake, gyse tilbake, trekke seg tilbake, springe tilbake, sprette tilbake, tilbakestøt, tilbakeslagNorwegian
  • recuo, coicePortuguese
  • отдача, отшатнуться, отшатываться, отпрянуть, отпрядыватьRussian
  • rekylSwedish
  • geri tepmeTurkish
  • 畏缩Chinese

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"recoil." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 24 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/recoil>.

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    a sophisticated person who has travelled in many countries
    A cosmopolitan
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