Anisotropic emission of gravitational waves (GWs) from inspiralling compact binaries leads to the loss of linear momentum and hence gravitational recoil of the system. The loss rate of linear momentum in the far-zone of the source (a nonspinning binary system of black holes in quasicircular orbit) is investigated at the 2.5 post-Newtonian (PN) order and used to provide an analytical expression in harmonic coordinates for the 2.5PN accurate recoil velocity of the binary accumulated in the inspiral phase. The maximum recoil velocity of the binary system at the end of its inspiral phase (i.e at the innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO)) estimated by the 2.5PN formula is of the order of 4kms -1 which is smaller than the 2PN estimate of 22kms -1. Going beyond inspiral, we also provide an estimate of the more important contribution to the recoil velocity from the plunge phase. The maximum recoil velocity at the end of the plunge, involving contributions both from inspiral and plunge phase, for a binary with symmetric mass ratio ν=0.2 is of the order of 182kms -1. © 2012 American Physical Society.