Word of the Month: Resilience

David Zapatka

Reader, friend, and fellow bridge player, Pat Schlect, writes, “I was very happy to see your article in the Sun Lakes Splash.I loved the subject. The word I would choose for research is ‘resilience.’ Why? If you had to pick one characteristic or quality you’d most like to have, what would it be? I’d choose resilience. It is the one characteristic I am the most proud of in myself. It seems too easy to be kind, sensitive, and understanding in nature, but resilience, that is an accomplishment. And only when we are resilient can we continue to be that understanding, caring person. Without resilience, those other characteristics we pride ourselves on go out the door. Thanks for the interesting subject matter.”

Resilience—noun re·​sil·​ience ri-zil-yen(t)s

1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress

2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Origin and Etymology—In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material (such as rubber or animal tissue) to absorb energy (such as from a blow) and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape. The recovery that occurs in this phenomenon can be viewed as analogous to a person’s ability to bounce back after a jarring setback.  The word resilience derives from the present participle of the Latin verb resilire, meaning “to jump back” or “to recoil.” The base of resilire is salire, a verb meaning “to leap” that also pops up in the etymologies of such sprightly words as sally and somersault.

First Known Use—1807

Resilience used in sentences:

… the concert remained a remarkable tribute to Dylan’s resilience and continued relevance.—Susan Richardson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994

He squeezed the rubber with a clamp and then released it—demonstrating with this painfully simple experiment that the material lost its resilience and therefore its ability to flex rapidly enough to protect the rocket joint from tumultuous hot gases.—James Gleick, New York Times Book Review, 13 Nov. 1988

It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, even by death, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment.—Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897

The rescue workers showed remarkable resilience in dealing with the difficult conditions.

Cold temperatures caused the material to lose resilience.

Resilience used on the web:

Establishing energy resilience is an essential matter of national security and a necessity for economic development.—Hou Yu-Ih, Foreign Affairs, 18 Sep. 2023

Collagen is what helps the skin maintain its elasticity and resilience.—Jasmine Gomez, Women’s Health, 9 Sep. 2023

Do you consider yourself resilient like Pat? Please submit your experiences or any word you may like to share along with your insights and comments to [email protected].