Resilience Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

This guide will help you understand the meaning of resilience through definitions, etymology, synonyms, antonyms, examples, and more.  

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In today’s ever-changing society, you may have heard about the importance of building resilience, but do you know what resilience means? 

Read on to discover everything you need to know about the word resilience including its definition, origin, synonyms, antonyms, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Resilience? 

The term resilience is seemingly everywhere, but sometimes, it seems like the meaning is slightly different every time it pops up. Needless to say, the word resilience can be a little confusing. 

To help you better understand this ubiquitous word, we’ve gathered multiple definitions from trusted sources:

  • According to the Cambridge Dictionary resilience can be defined as the ability to be happy and successful after something difficult, trying or bad has happened — or buoyancy.
  • Collins Dictionary lets us know that the meaning behind resilience can also refer to the ability to spring back or bounce back into shape after compression — or elasticity.
  • When reviewing the Lexico English Dictionary you will also see resilience defined as the ability of an organization or system to recover or respond readily from a disruptive process, or crisis.

If you look at physics, resilience references the ability of an elastic material to absorb energy from a blow and quickly release that energy as it springs back to its original state. 

Remember the childhood favorite silly putty? You could stretch it out over and over without breaking only to place it back in its little egg container when you were through. That’s some serious elasticity or resilience for you!

Or were your parents the resilient ones for always putting away the toys when we forgot?

This recovery or resilience that occurs in physics can be viewed as analogous to one’s ability to bounce back or their resilience after a jarring setback.

Synonyms and Antonyms of Resilience

There are many words that we can use in place of resilience. These words are called synonyms, which are phrases or words that have the same or similar definition as another word. 

Not only do synonyms help to avoid repeating ourselves in conversation, but they are also a  great way to expand your knowledge of the English Language.

Below are synonyms of resilience:

  • Elasticity
  • Hardiness
  • Rugged construction
  • Hardiness
  • Modifiability
  • Complaisance
  • Affability
  • Toughness
  • Vim
  • Suppleness
  • Ambidexterity
  • Spunk
  • Character
  • Courage
  • Toughness of spirit
  • Durability
  • Moral fiber
  • Intestinal fortitude
  • Malleableness
  • Ability to bounce back
  • Survival skills

When a word has the opposite meaning of the original word, that word is called an antonym. As was the case with synonyms, learning antonyms is a great way to memorize the definition of a word.

Below are antonyms of resilience:

  • Depression
  • Spinelessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Resistance
  • Constraint
  • Inflexibility
  • Rigidity
  • Rigor
  • Strength
  • Dubiousness
  • Ricketiness
  • Wobbliness
  • Frailness
  • Brittleness
  • Breakability
  • Fragility
  • Apathy
  • Cowardness
  • Timidity
  • Narrow mindedness
  • Discontinuance

What Is the Etymology of Resilience?

When we look at a word’s origin, we really get to see how the word has evolved over time. The feeling and idea behind resilience really began to grow legs in ecology, psychology, and the social services around 1970, albeit independently. 

However, by tracing the word resilience’s etymology, we see that it was first used in 1620. Deriving from the Latin word resiliens — as well as the present participle of the Latin verb resilire — this meant to recoil back or to leap.

In a physical sense of the word, resilience saw its first use around 1824, used in the physical sciences meaning “elasticity” or “the power to return to its original shape after compression.”

How Can Resilience Be Used in a Sentence?

Now that you understand the history of the word resilience and what it means, let’s discover how to correctly use it in a sentence. Below you will find a few example sentences to help inspire you:

As a Hurricane Katrina survivor, Owen is clearly a resilient lad. To be able to overcome that trauma and misfortune is admirable.

The anxiety, tragedy, and misfortune surrounding such a traumatic event will test the resilience of all involved.

Our coaches had some realistic plans to teach us urban resilience when dealing with different people, negative emotions, significant sources of stress, and various different things.”

Have you ever heard of caoutchouc? It is a soft, resilient solid, quite fun to play with.”

“Wow this is really a resilient fabric — it’s even self-cleaning!”

We could go with a cheaper material they will not be as flexible or resilient.

Life may try to get in the way of your goals at times, but if we learn to remain resilient, we shall overcome all.


While it can slightly vary at times, the term resilience refers to the ability to bounce back and withstand adversity.


  1. RESILIENCE | definition in | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. What is another word for resilience? | Resilience Synonyms | WordHippo Thesaurus
  3. Resilience definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary