intr.v. re·coiled, re·coil·ing, re·coils
1. To spring back, as upon firing.
2. To shrink back, as in fear or repugnance.
3. To fall back; return: "Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent" (Arthur Conan Doyle).
n. (also rēkoil′)
1. The backward action of a firearm upon firing.
2. The act or state of recoiling; reaction.
[Middle English recoilen, from Old French reculer : re-, re- + cul, buttocks (from Latin cūlus; see (s)keu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.