I am attempting to find an adjective to describe someone who has rebounded from failure and come back even stronger.

The ___ man came back, worked harder, then succeeded after missing the game winning shot.

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    – Lawrence
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 0:24

17 Answers 17


"Resilient" seems to be a perfect fit.

  • able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
  • able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

merriam-webster.com: resilient

  • This is a good one!
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 16:55

Perhaps resurgent

rising again, as to new life, vigour, etc.


The term is especially apt where there was a lull or quieting of activity before the renewed effort.


I would say a man who doesn't give up is tenacious:

not easily stopped or pulled apart : firm or strong; very determined to do something




Something indomitable can't be beat. People described as having indomitable spirits don't need pep talks or protein shakes; their strength comes from within. -- vocabulary.com

While typically associated with 'spirit' it works well in your sentence.

The indomitable man came back, worked harder, then succeeded after missing the game winning shot.

  • Not sure this quite captures it. Defeat not quite failure. And the indomitable one wouldn't have failed/be beaten to begin with... just my thoughts though. This might work better in a different context.
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 16:54

One word that might be used to convey this idea is "chastened". "To chasten" is defined by oxforddictionaries.com as

(Of a reproof or misfortune) have a restraining or moderating effect on

This implies that the chastened individual has seen the error of his or her ways, and has resolved to perform better in the future.

That website also gives these example sentences, which seem to closely match the sense you're trying to communicate:

Perhaps chastened by the experience, and certainly restricted by a hung council, Labour have subsequently become more conciliatory.


In this way the ships captain kept a tight rein on his men and when the ship set sail it was with a suitably chastened crew, or so the Captain thought.



informal (originally US ) NOUN
(Frequently with the) a person who ultimately succeeds after initial difficulties or failure; a person renowned for making unlikely comebacks. — OD

So tweaking OP's sentence you could say:

Rollins, the comeback-kid, came back, worked harder, then succeeded after missing the game winning shot.

Or using the noun-as-an-adjective approach

The comeback-kid Rollins [...]

There was a sports movie with same name.


I like bouncebackability

It has connotations in sport. It perhaps appropriate.


Can the word order change slightly?

Unperturbed, the man came back, worked harder, then succeeded after missing the game winning shot.


Comeback itself works as an adjective, if you rephrase the sentence to avoid duplicating it. Some professional sports leagues have a "Comeback Player" award to recognize players who overcame a period of injury or poor performance.



  • The formulation"comeback kid" is particularly worthy of note in this context, I think.
    – Silverfish
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 17:40
  • @Silverfish: Comeback kid was already suggested. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 22:21

"The prodigal son has returned"

It is a very popular expression in the movies.

Prodigal son

a man or ​boy who has ​left his ​family in ​order to do something that the ​family ​disapprove of and has now ​returned ​home ​feeling ​sorry for what he has done

Used figuratively,

"The ​prodigal ​son has ​returned to the ​team after a three-year ​absence."

Another definition from dictionary.com:

a figure in a parable of Jesus (Luke 15:11–32); a wayward son who squanders his inheritance but returns home to find that his father forgives him.

Relevant article from Wikipedia: Parable of the Prodigal Son


one who has returned after an absence


A person who comes back, especially from the dead, which could be metaphorical death is a revenant, just like the recent movie. The Revenant. However, this is not an adjective, it is, however, a powerful and non-cliché noun.

In informal AmE, the comeback man. More formal: The rebounding or rebounded man..we say to do something on the rebound.



Make (someone or something) look or feel younger, fresher, or more lively

Oxford Dictionaries.


Renascent (rising again as to new life and vigor, from Wordnet) (or revived)



Emboldened, the man came back, worked harder, then succeeded after missing a game winning shot.


Teflon would work in some situations. It refers to the non-stick characteristics of PTFE (trade named Teflon).

characterized by imperviousness to blame or criticism: a Teflon politician.


The term is often applied to politicians who run into trouble with scandals or faux pas. In the 1980s Mafia figure John Gotti was nicknamed the Teflon Don because criminal charges did not 'stick' to him (until they did).



The Resilient man came back, worked harder, then succeeded after missing the game winning shot.


renewed - give fresh life or strength to

  • Is this your own definition, or a citation? If it's from another source like a dictionary, you need to include the name of the source, and a link if possible. Here is the Help Center page on referencing sources: english.stackexchange.com/help/referencing
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 18:04

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