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verb re·turn \ri-ˈtərn\

Simple Definition of return

  • : to come or go to a place again : to come back or go back again

  • : to bring, give, send, or take (something) to the place that it came from or the place where it should go

  • : to bring or send (something that you bought) to the place that it came from because it does not work or fit properly, because it is damaged, etc.

Full Definition of return

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to go back or come back again <return home> b :  to go back in thought, practice, or condition :  revert

  3. 2 :  to pass back to an earlier possessor

  4. 3 :  reply, retort

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1 a :  to give (as an official account) to a superior b British :  to elect (a candidate) as attested by official report or returns c :  to bring back (as a writ or verdict) to an office or tribunal

  7. 2 a :  to bring, send, or put back to a former or proper place b :  to restore to a former or to a normal state

  8. 3 a :  to send back :  visit —usually used with on or upon b obsolete :  retort

  9. 4 :  to bring in (as profit) :  yield

  10. 5 a :  to give or perform in return :  repay <return a compliment>; also :  to respond to in kind <returned his calls> b :  to give back to the owner c :  reflect <return an echo>

  11. 6 :  to cause (as a wall) to continue in a different direction (as at a right angle)

  12. 7 :  to lead (a specified suit or specified card of a suit) in response to a partner's earlier lead

  13. 8 a :  to hit back (a ball or shuttlecock) b :  to run with (a football) after a change of possession (as by a punt or a fumble)

re·turn·er noun

Examples of return

  1. We waited for you to return.

  2. She is returning home tomorrow.

  3. I'm leaving but will return at 2 p.m.

  4. I have to return a book to the library.

  5. I'm returning your ladder. Thanks for letting me borrow it.

  6. The dishes were broken when they were delivered, so I had to return them.

  7. I had to return the shirt and get a bigger size.

  8. His jealousy returned when he saw his ex-wife with her new husband.

Origin of return

Middle English, from Anglo-French returner, from re- + turner, tourner to turn — more at turn

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of return

reciprocate, retaliate, requite, return mean to give back usually in kind or in quantity. reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received <reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them for a visit>. retaliate usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully <the enemy retaliated by executing their prisoners>. requite implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently <requited her love with cold indifference>. return implies a paying or giving back <returned their call> <return good for evil>.



noun re·turn

Simple Definition of return

  • : the act of coming or going back to the place you started from or to a place where you were before

  • : the act of going back to an activity, job, situation, etc. : the act of starting to do something again after stopping

  • : the fact that something (such as a condition, feeling, or situation) happens again

Full Definition of return

  1. 1 a :  the act of coming back to or from a place or condition b :  a regular or frequent returning :  recurrence

  2. 2 a (1) :  the delivery of a legal order (as a writ) to the proper officer or court (2) :  an endorsed certificate stating an official's action in the execution of such an order (3) :  the sending back of a commission with the certificate of the commissioners b :  an account or formal report c (1) :  a report of the results of balloting —usually used in plural <election returns> (2) :  an official declaration of the election of a candidate (3) chiefly British :  election d (1) :  a formal statement on a required legal form showing taxable income, allowable deductions and exemptions, and the computation of the tax due (2) :  a list of taxable property

  3. 3 a :  the continuation usually at a right angle of the face or of a member of a building or of a molding or group of moldings b :  a means for conveying something (as water) back to its starting point

  4. 4 a :  a quantity of goods, consignment, or cargo coming back in exchange for goods sent out as a mercantile venture b :  the value of or profit from such venture c (1) :  the profit from labor, investment, or business :  yield (2) plural :  results d :  the rate of profit in a process of production per unit of cost

  5. 5 a :  the act of returning something to a former place, condition, or ownership :  restitution <the return of stolen goods> b :  something returned; especially plural :  unsold publications returned to the publisher for cash or credit

  6. 6 a :  something given in repayment or reciprocation <a return on their years of hard work> b :  answer, retort

  7. 7 :  an answering play: as a :  a lead in a suit previously led by one's partner in a card game b :  the action or an instance of returning a ball (as in football or tennis)

  8. 8 chiefly British :  round-trip

in return
  1. :  in reciprocation, compensation, or repayment

Examples of return

  1. We are looking forward to your return.

  2. We're looking forward to our return to Europe.

  3. The team looked forward to his return to coaching.

  4. a return to the old ways of farming

  5. the department's return to normal

  6. The people celebrated their leader's return to power.

14th Century

First Known Use of return

14th century



adjective re·turn

Simple Definition of return

  • : used in or taken for returning to a place

  • : happening or done for the second time

  • : used or paying for a trip that takes you to a place and back to the place you started from

Full Definition of return

  1. 1 a :  having or formed by a change of direction <a return facade> b :  doubled on itself <a return flue>

  2. 2 a :  played, delivered, or given in return <return fire from the enemy> b :  taking place for the second time <a return meeting for the two champions>

  3. 3 :  used or taken on returning <the return road>

  4. 4 :  returning or permitting return <a return valve>

  5. 5 :  of, relating to, or causing a return to a place or condition <use the prestamped return envelope>


First Known Use of return


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February 14, 2016

to hug and kiss another person

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