recoil

recoil vb 1 Recoil, shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail can all mean to draw back from something, usually through fear, faintheartedness, or disgust.
Recoil more than any of the succeeding terms suggests the physical signs of such drawing back or the sensations that accompany it. The term may imply a start or a sudden movement away
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had so great a dread of snakes that he instinctively recoiled at the sight of one— Costain

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she makes a gesture as if to touch him. He recoils impatiently— Shaw

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but often the term suggests an inner or not outwardly apparent shaking or stirring that affects one mentally more than physically
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she was principally aware of the sentiment of fear. She recoiled from the future— Bennett

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the tendency to recoil from the expression of repressed feelings, such as hate— Garvin

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Shrink implies an instinctive recoil (as from something painful or unpleasant or horrible); it often implies cowardice, but it may imply extreme sensitiveness or scrupulousness
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guilt and misery shrink, by a natural instinct, from public notice— De Quincey

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she shrank from the words which would have expressed their mutual consciousness, as she would have shrunk from flakes of fire— George Eliot

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he might have shrunk from defending himself at the expense of a frightened, unhappy girl— Rose Macaulay

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Flinch implies a failure in resolution or an inability to overcome one's desire to avoid or evade something that is painful, difficult, or abhorrent
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he looked his fate in the face without flinchingBurroughs

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she read and took notes incessantly, mastering facts with painful laboriousness, but never flinching from her self-imposed task— Hardy

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the process of purgation is alway perilous, though it is . . . still more perilous to flinch from making the attempt— Toynbee

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Flinch is sometimes used but wince more often when by some involuntary, often slight, physical movement (as starting or recoiling) one manifests pain, fear, disgust, or acute sensitiveness
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cannot bear the slightest touch without flinchingSmollett

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his horse stands wincing at the flies, giving sharp shivers of his skin— Hunt

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old Lady Kew's tongue was a dreadful thong which made numbers of people winceThackeray

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Mr. Warburton winced when he heard so young a man call him by nickname— Purdy

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Blench may be indistinguishable from flinch; it often, however, carries a stronger suggestion of faintheartedness or of signs of fear
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this painful, heroic task he undertook, and never blenched from its fulfillment— Jeffrey

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though his death seemed near he did not blenchMasefield

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To quail is to shrink coweringly, as from something which strikes terror
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the most formidable woman I have ever known . . . eminent men invariably quailed before her— Russell

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I am never known to quail at the fury of a gale— Gilbert

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Analogous words: waver, falter, *hesitate: shy, balk, stick, stickle (see DEMUR)
Antonyms: confront: defy
2 *rebound, reverberate, resile, repercuss
Analogous words: retreat, *recede, back, retract: *return, revert

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • Recoil — Re*coil , n. 1. A starting or falling back; a rebound; a shrinking; as, the recoil of nature, or of the blood. [1913 Webster] 2. The state or condition of having recoiled. [1913 Webster] The recoil from formalism is skepticism. F. W. Robertson.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Recoil — Re*coil (r[ e]*koil ), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Recoiled} (r[ e]*koild ); p. pr. & vb. n. {Recoiling}.] [OE. recoilen, F. reculer, fr. L. pref. re re + culus the fundament. The English word was perhaps influenced in form by accoil.] [1913 Webster] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • recoil — ► VERB 1) suddenly spring back or flinch in fear, horror, or disgust. 2) feel such emotions at the thought of something. 3) spring back through force of impact or elasticity. 4) (recoil on/upon) have an adverse consequence for (the originator). ► …   English terms dictionary

  • Recoil — Re*coil (r[ e]*koil ), v. t. To draw or go back. [Obs.] Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • recoil — index rebuff, refuse, repercussion, retreat, revert Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • recoil — [v] shrink away backfire, balk, blanch, blench, blink, carom, cringe, demur, dodge, draw back, duck, falter, flinch, hesitate, jerk, kick, pull back, quail, quake, react, rebound, reel, resile, shake, shirk, shrink, shudder, shy away, spring,… …   New thesaurus

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