re·​cant ri-ˈkant How to pronounce recant (audio)
recanted; recanting; recants

transitive verb

: to withdraw or repudiate (a statement or belief) formally and publicly : renounce
: revoke

intransitive verb

: to make an open confession of error
recantation noun
Choose the Right Synonym for recant

abjure, renounce, forswear, recant, retract mean to withdraw one's word or professed belief.

abjure implies a firm and final rejecting or abandoning often made under oath.

abjured the errors of his former faith

renounce may carry the meaning of disclaim or disown.

renounced abstract art and turned to portrait painting

forswear may add an implication of perjury or betrayal.

I cannot forswear my principles

recant stresses the withdrawing or denying of something professed or taught.

if they recant they will be spared

retract applies to the withdrawing of a promise, an offer, or an accusation.

the newspaper had to retract the story

Examples of recant in a Sentence

Church officials asked the minister to recant. Witnesses threatened to recant their testimony when the court released their names to the paper.
Recent Examples on the Web Mizuhara also recanted details of his initial story to ESPN, the outlet reported. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2024 Related Articles The consequences of that guidance have rippled through Santa Clara County school districts, where children have recanted their abuse allegations in front of their parents, according to Milpitas Unified school social worker Nicole Steward. Scooty Nickerson, The Mercury News, 3 Mar. 2024 Prosecutor still ‘convinced’ of Cantu’s guilt In court filings, Cantu and his attorney claimed false testimony was presented at trial by the state’s key witnesses, including one who has since recanted. Dakin Andone, CNN, 28 Feb. 2024 Why would Mizuhara and the Ohtani spokesperson recant their original version of events? Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2024 Where Galileo sold out and recanted, Bannon explained, Bruno was a real hero. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 Court filings also show that Boettcher's brother, Jeff Boettcher, recanted his testimony. James Powel, USA TODAY, 29 Feb. 2024 In the days after her emailed comments regarding Trump, Ransome sent a follow-up email on Oct. 23, 2016, recanting her statements entirely. Rachel Schilke, Washington Examiner, 8 Jan. 2024 While the murder charge was eventually dropped (the victim recanted), Harris spent 30 years behind bars for the drug charge before Trump pardoned him and 73 others. Shania Russell,, 28 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'recant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin recantare, from re- + cantare to sing — more at chant

First Known Use

1535, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of recant was in 1535

Dictionary Entries Near recant

Cite this Entry

“Recant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


re·​cant ri-ˈkant How to pronounce recant (audio)
: to take back publicly an opinion or belief
recantation noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
re·​cant ri-ˈkant How to pronounce recant (audio)
: to renounce or withdraw (prior statements or testimony)
surprised the prosecution by recanting statements made earlier to the police

intransitive verb

: to renounce or withdraw prior statements or testimony
recantation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on recant

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