AskDefine | Define backlash

Dictionary Definition



1 a movement back from an impact [syn: recoil, repercussion, rebound]
2 an adverse reaction to some political or social occurrence; "there was a backlash of intolerance" v : have an unexpected and undesired effect; "Your comments may backfire and cause you a lot of trouble" [syn: backfire]

User Contributed Dictionary



Back, adverb + lash.



  1. A sudden backward motion.
  2. A reaction, objection or outcry, especially of a violent or abrupt nature.
    • The public backlash to the proposal was quick and insistent.
    • When someone has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, daily interactions on and offline may feel like traversing a minefield; you don’t know if where you’ll step next will have a mine, so people with varying forms of autism may not know if many of the things they’ll say next will cause an unforeseen backlash.
  3. In the context of "mechanical": The distance through which one part of connected machinery, as a wheel, piston, or screw, can be moved without moving the connected parts, resulting from looseness in fitting or from wear.
  4. The jarring or reflex motion caused in badly fitting machinery by irregularities in velocity or a reverse of motion.


sudden backward motion
  • Finnish: takapotku
violent or abrubt reaction
  • Finnish: vastaisku
mechanical: distance of free movement between connected parts
  • Finnish: välys, klappi
jarring motion in badly fitting machinery
  • Finnish: välys, klappi

Extensive Definition

A backlash is a popular extreme negative reaction against something that has gained popularity, prominence, or influence. While sometimes a backlash represents a categorical rejection of the idea, aesthetic, product, or fad in question, it often is more reflective of a collective resentment of that thing's ubiquity in culture and media, more than its mere existence. The term is commonly applied to racial discrimination and religious discrimination committed against members of minority groups in response to an event or circumstance, such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Backlash also refers to 'victim blaming' which occurs when people in the environment erroneously shift blame from the perpetrators of crimes to the victims and/or further blame the victims for resulting controversies and conflicts after the crime is reported or discovered. Backlash in these circumstances is often a result of inaccurate speculations and conclusions that the victim must be at fault for the crime that was committed. The victim may also be accused of trying to get attention, covering for incompetence, or lying when reporting a crime. Certain "old school" attitudes pressure victims to "keep their mouths shut" about certain crimes or suffer further consequences.
backlash in German: Backlash
backlash in Japanese: バックラッシュ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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