Definition of recourse in English:



  • 1A source of help in a difficult situation.

    ‘surgery may be the only recourse’
    • ‘‘If the customer terminates the contract without a good reason there is a recourse we can take,’ he said.’
    • ‘As a last recourse, if we thought that he was in the city, we might contemplate putting some Marines there.’
    • ‘Tampering tends to be the recourse of underdeveloped political forces or rulers that are weak or unable to afford the luxury of costly campaigns.’
    • ‘At this point the only possible recourse was to retire, which we did.’
    • ‘But, as is so often the case, such strong measures were the recourse of a weak regime.’
    • ‘Has the ability to use force with impunity lowered the moral standard for the recourse to force considerably from the last-resort requirements of just war?’
    • ‘Such research suggests that the proscription concerning the recourse to ethnographic particulars is honoured more by some discourse analysts than others.’
    • ‘Violence should not be a first recourse, but that doesn't change the fact that some people really need to be dealt with.’
    • ‘I'll venture that we believe religion is an effective recourse against mortality.’
    • ‘As a result, some politicians have begun to think of war, not as the high-risk recourse of last resort, but as an attractive foreign policy option in times of domestic scandal or economic decline.’
    • ‘Harsh acts take away people's right of defence in an open court of law, a normal recourse in a democratic structure.’
    • ‘The French Minister added: ‘The use of force can only be a final recourse.’’
    • ‘In these terms, religion is the recourse of isolated individuals seeking to find a spiritual pattern and meaning for their lives.’
    • ‘It's a reassuring recourse for women like me who might even be accused of approaching life too conservatively, too responsibly.’
    • ‘Mayer contrasts this process with the recourse NAFTA gives corporations to fight local laws that interfere with their ability to profit.’
    • ‘If this does not happen, there will be a possible recourse to arms.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, lustration - laws preventing wrongdoers of the past from holding office - has been the recourse.’
    • ‘Such a diplomatic recourse, while potentially offering short-term successes, does not last, as the Agreed Framework has shown.’
    • ‘Let us not forget that this is a business and as such should be maintained by its directors, shareholders and supporters, and if this is not possible then the only recourse is closure.’
    • ‘When hegemony breaks down, as it did for liberal democracy in late Weimar, there will be a recourse to extreme measures to preserve the status quo.’
    • ‘This is often a last recourse, only reluctantly resorted to when a party is clearly concealing income.’
    option, possibility, alternative, possible course of action, resort, way out, person to turn to, place to turn to, source of assistance, available resource, hope, remedy, choice, expedient
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    1. 1.1recourse tomass noun The use of (someone or something) as a source of help in a difficult situation.
      ‘a means of solving disputes without recourse to courts of law’
      ‘all three countries had recourse to the IMF for standby loans’
      • ‘In other times, and in other societies, it has had recourse to the Inquisition and the gulag.’
      • ‘The rest of the population could not afford such measures; the only stone-built and relatively fire-proof building they had recourse to for defence was the village church or chapel.’
      • ‘The judge said recourse to the courts should be a last resort, particularly when family circumstances and the care and welfare of children were involved.’
      • ‘Hence it had recourse to adjudication to advance that process of agreement.’
      • ‘In this respect, the Community has had recourse to various instruments, including production quotas.’
      • ‘Victims who have not issued proceedings by that deadline will not have recourse to the High Court, and have no alternative but to seek redress at the compensation tribunal.’
      • ‘There are other, often more immediately beneficial, sources of assistance during unemployment besides recourse to the courts for damages.’
      • ‘Though much of his career was outside South Australia, the abilities of Sir Richard Blackburn greatly impressed those before whom he appeared and those who have had recourse to his judgments.’
      • ‘Whether those kangaroo courts (if they ever come to pass) or the regular federal courts will have recourse to the death penalty remains to be seen, but it seems likely.’
      • ‘Clients have considered recourse to the European Court over this.’
      • ‘Many trade unions have had recourse to what is called, rightly or wrongly, fictitious employees.’
      • ‘About 90 percent of families that, for some reason or another, do break down are able to resolve their issues without recourse to the courts.’
      • ‘They have no recourse to the courts to review the question of whether they should be locked up.’
      • ‘‘They are doing this without recourse to the disciplinary procedures,’ said Ogle.’
      • ‘We would prefer to have compliance without recourse to legal action.’
      • ‘It should therefore not surprise us that ‘Popular writers often had recourse to classical myths, looking to them as a fount of imagery’.’
      • ‘Now, the Pastons had recourse to the courts, but also felt able to join the political conflict themselves.’
      • ‘Political and ideological arrangements upheld this right, and when they failed, the ruling class had recourse to force.’
      • ‘On another note, I had recourse to the calamine lotion bottle last night when I realised I'd applied suntan lotion so cack-handedly that my left shoulder was completely unprotected.’
      • ‘There are zillions of ways to deal with any difficult situation, immediate recourse to magic might not be the best.’
      • ‘Although participants remained highly critical of unregulated ethnomedicine, few had recourse to desired alternatives.’
      • ‘If the precedent of other provinces was followed in Britain, larger landowners would have had recourse to two strategies to protect their interests.’
      • ‘We hope that recourse to the High Court will not be necessary in this case.’
      resort to, make use of, use, avail oneself of, utilize, employ, turn to, call on, draw on, bring into play, bring into service, look to, appeal to
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    2. 1.2mass noun The legal right to demand compensation or payment.
      ‘the bank has recourse against the exporter for losses incurred’
      • ‘Financial business was disrupted as debtors died and their creditors found themselves without recourse.’
      • ‘If the company declares bankruptcy within two years of the deal you risk being charged with conspiracy in asset-stripping and could lose the property without compensation or recourse.’
      • ‘The concept gives a payee a direct right of recourse against the drawee bank, although if there are no funds then generally the drawee does not have to pay.’
      • ‘In the commercial world, recourse through copyright and legal means is available to those who believe their ideas and works have been stolen.’
      • ‘Junk faxes are illegal because a significant cost is shifted to the recipient without recourse.’
      • ‘As the branch had, functionally, agreed to negotiate or collect the cheque, it had a collecting bank's right of recourse when the cheque was dishonoured.’
      • ‘To make matters worse, you will have no recourse because a compensation clause will rarely be in your contract.’
      • ‘So, a private individual is entitled to automatic recourse if a supplier fails to deliver, but a company may not.’


  • without recourse

    • A formula used to disclaim responsibility for future non-payment, especially of a negotiable financial instrument.

      ‘the drawer of funds is not liable and can discount without recourse’
      • ‘The second letter, signed by him as an agent of the association, declared that the transfer was made ‘without recourse.’’
      • ‘In the case of a cooperative sale in which the buyer offers a promissory note as an earnest money deposit, the note should be made payable to the listing broker or should be endorsed ‘without recourse’ by the selling broker to the listing broker.’


Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘running or flowing back’): from Old French recours, from Latin recursus, from re- ‘back, again’ + cursus ‘course, running’.