Simple Definition of retract
: to pull (something) back into something larger that usually covers it
: to say that something you said or wrote is not true or correct
: to take back (something, such as an offer or promise)
Examples of retract in a sentence
A cat can retract its claws.
The pilot retracted the plane's landing gear.
The plane's landing gear failed to retract.
Their college grants were retracted.
They retracted the job offer.
Did You Know?
The prefix re- ("back") gives retract the meaning of "draw back". Just as a cat retracts its claws into its paws when they aren't being used, a public figure may issue a retraction in order to say that he or she no longer wants to say something that has just been said. But it's sometimes hard to know what a retraction means: Was the original statement an error or an outright lie? Sometimes a politician even has to retract something that everyone actually assumes is the truth. Thousands of citizens were forced to publicly retract their "wrong" ideas by the Soviet government in the 1930s and the Chinese government in the 1960s. Someone wrongly accused may demand a retraction from his accuser—though today it seems more likely that he'll just go ahead and sue.
Origin and Etymology of retract
Middle English, from Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere — more at retreat
First Known Use: 15th century
Synonym Discussion of retract
recede, retreat, retract, back mean to move backward. recede implies a gradual withdrawing from a forward or high fixed point in time or space <the flood waters gradually receded>. retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached <retreating soldiers>. retract implies drawing back from an extended position <a cat retracting its claws>. back is used with up, down, out, or off to refer to any retrograde motion <backed off on the throttle>.
RETRACT Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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