Printable Version
Pronunciation: ri-zail Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. To draw back, to retreat, to recoil from something. 2. To return or spring back to an original state, condition, or position.

Notes: As a grandparent, I'm particularly drawn to words we use today, whose parentage we forget. The adjective resilient and noun resilience (or resiliency) are derived from the almost completely forgotten verb resile, today's Good Word. Don't forget it—and don't forget your grandparents! Use this word when you talk to them.

In Play: This word is usually used to indicate repulsion of some sort: "The senator said that he would not resile from running for president if his wife would stay with him." It can also be used in the sense of resilience, that is, to returning to an original state: "Lucy's doll did not completely resile after she accidentally stepped on it."

Word History: Today's word came from an obsolete French verb, resilir, the legal heir of Latin resilire "to leap back". This word comprises re- "back" + the combining form of salire "to jump, leap". The present participle of salire is salien(t)s "jumping, leaping", the source of English salient, said of things that jump out at you. The past participle of this word is saltus "jumped". The ending -us dropped off this word on its way to Old French. Old French then added a U, resulting in sault, which found its way into such words borrowed from Old French as assault and somersault. The initial part of somersault, somer, originated in Provençal subra "over", which goes back to Latin super. (I would never resile from thanking Professor Kyu Ho Youm of the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communications for the suggestion of today's leaping Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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