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adjective ret·ro·grade \ˈre-trə-ˌgrād\

Simple Definition of retrograde

  • : returning to an earlier and usually worse state or condition

  • : moving backward

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of retrograde

  1. 1 a (1) :  having or being motion in a direction contrary to that of the general motion of similar bodies and especially east to west among the stars <Saturn is retrograde for another week> (2) :  having or being a direction of rotation or revolution that is clockwise as viewed from the north pole of the sky or a planet <a retrograde orbit> b (1) :  moving, occurring, or performed in a backward direction (2) :  occurring or performed in a direction opposite to the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow — compare anterograde 1 c :  contrary to the normal order :  inverse

  2. 2 :  tending toward or resulting in a worse or previous state

  3. 3 archaic :  contradictory, opposed

  4. 4 :  characterized by retrogression

  5. 5 :  affecting memories of a period prior to a shock or seizure <retrograde amnesia>

  6. 6 :  retro <retrograde fashion>



Examples of retrograde in a sentence

  1. a retrograde policy that would leave more people poorer than they are now

  2. <retrograde pedaling will engage the brakes on that bike>

Did You Know?

Retrograde describes backwardness of one kind or another. If a country decided to go back to amputating the limbs of criminals, we might call that policy retrograde. A retrograde view of women might be one that sees them basically as housekeepers. Mars and Jupiter show retrograde (backward) motion at some stages of their orbits, though this is only because of the way we see them from the earth, not because of any real backward movement.

Origin and Etymology of retrograde

Middle English, from Latin retrogradus, from retrogradi

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Astronomy Terms



adverb ret·ro·grade

Definition of retrograde

Circa 1619

First Known Use of retrograde

circa 1619



verb ret·ro·grade

Definition of retrograde


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to turn back :  reverse

  3. intransitive verb
  4. 1 a :  to go back :  retreat b :  to go back over or recapitulate something

  5. 2 :  to decline to a worse condition

Examples of retrograde in a sentence

  1. <the Dark Ages, the period following the fall of the Roman Empire when Western civilization seriously retrograded>

Origin and Etymology of retrograde

Latin retrogradi, from retro- + gradi to go — more at grade

First Known Use: 1582

Medical Dictionary


adjective ret·ro·grade \ˈre-trə-ˌgrād\

Medical Definition of retrograde

  1. 1:  characterized by retrogression

  2. 2:  affecting memories of a period prior to a precipitating event (as brain injury or disease) <In retrograde amnesia, the victim can remember only what has happened since he lost his memory; everything before that is irretrievable.—Jean Seligmann, Newsweek, 29 Sept. 1986>—compare anterograde 1

  3. 3:  occurring or performed in a direction opposite to the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow: asa:  occurring along nerve cell processes toward the cell body <retrograde axonal transport> <retrograde degeneration of nerve fibers>b:  occurring opposite to the normal direction or path of blood circulation <apply bandaging to the lower extremities to produce pressure to reduce retrograde blood flow in veins with incompetent valves>—compare anterograde 2


adverb <The ablation catheter was then inserted through the right femoral arterial sheath and advanced retrogradely into the left ventricle.—Warren M. Jackman, The New England Journal of Medicine, 6 June 1991>

Seen and Heard

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different from the usual or normal

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