from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The backpressure in an internal-combustion engine or a boiler.
  • noun Powder residue that is released upon automatic ejection of a spent cartridge or shell from a firearm.
  • noun Negative repercussions affecting a country whose government has undertaken a usually clandestine intelligence operation in another country.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun the backward escape of unburned gunpowder after a shot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun firearms A type of action where the pressure from the fired cartridge blows a sliding mechanism backward to extract the fired cartridge, chamber another cartridge, and cock the hammer.
  • noun An unintended adverse result, especially of a political action.
  • noun slang The act of shotgunning (inhaling from a pipe etc. and exhaling into another smoker's mouth).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the backward escape of gases and unburned gunpowder after a gun is fired
  • noun misinformation resulting from the recirculation into the source country of disinformation previously planted abroad by that country's intelligence service


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

blow +‎ back


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  • In much of the intelligence community, the term blowback is used to describe the unintended consequences that, often after providing support, assistance or aid, develop against ones intended goal or overall interests.

    Spero News 2009

  • You know, Tony Blair is been -- the former Prime Minister Tony Blair who just stepped down this week, was very clear in speaking about what he called blowback, blowback meaning that Britain becomes much more of a significant target because of everything that goes on in Iraq and because of the fact that they're involved in Iraq.

    CNN Transcript Jun 30, 2007 2007

  • If the late Chalmers Johnson, who made the word "blowback" part of our everyday language, happens to be looking down on American policy from some niche in heaven, he must be grimly amused by the brain-dead way our top officials blithely continue to try to bulldoze the Pakistanis.

    The Full Feed from Tom Engelhardt 2011

  • The CIA coined the term blowback in a document about the coup when describing the fallout of such actions. Stories / Popular 2008

  • The CIA knew that with this slaughter would come terrorist retribution, which they dubbed blowback, although that specific application of the word went unexamined by a media obsessed with the oval office ministrations of a Miss Monica Lewinsky.

    Dissident Voice 2008

  • The resulting blowback is going to be a bitch, particularly if the Teapublicans gain power and can no longer blame Obama for everything.

    Mark Olmsted: No Pizza, No Peace: The New Poor and the Coming Blowback Mark Olmsted 2010

  • I think that we're waiting to try and figure out what the blowback is from that.

    Raised In America And Aligned With Al-Qaida 2010

  • I think that we're waiting to try and figure out what the blowback is from that.

    Raised In America And Aligned With Al-Qaida 2010

  • The fear-mongering by the GOP will result in blowback yet again.

    Conservative Democrat gets The Last Word 2009

  • Someone who engages in behavior that produces threats and danger and then refuses to accept their role in this while “whining” about blowback is the definition of a retard.

    Think Progress » Eric Cantor reveals ‘a bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office.’ (Updated) 2010


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  • "Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they're for people that governments don't like. That's why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They're just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go.

    Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It's what they want.

    What we're experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet's squelching under our feet."

    - Arundhati Roy, '9 Is Not 11 (And November Isn't September)',, 12 December 2008.

    December 14, 2008