re·​gress | \ ˈrē-ˌgres How to pronounce regress (audio) \

Definition of regress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an act or the privilege of going or coming back
2 : movement backward to a previous and especially worse or more primitive state or condition
3 : the act of reasoning backward


re·​gress | \ ri-ˈgres How to pronounce regress (audio) \
regressed; regressing; regresses

Definition of regress (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to make or undergo regress : retrograde
b : to be subject to or exhibit regression
2 : to tend to approach or revert to a mean

transitive verb

: to induce a state of psychological regression in

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Other Words from regress


regressor \ ri-​ˈgre-​sər How to pronounce regressor (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for regress

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Did You Know?

As you might guess, regress is the opposite of progress. So if a disease regresses, that's generally a good thing, but in most other ways we prefer not to regress. If someone's mental state has been improving, we hope that person won't start to regress; and when a nation's promising educational system begins to regress, that's a bad sign for the country's future. Economists often distinguish between a progressive tax and a regressive tax; in a progressive tax, the percentage that goes to taxes gets larger as the amount of money being taxed gets larger, while in a regressive tax the percentage gets smaller.

Examples of regress in a Sentence

Verb The patient is regressing to a childlike state. in extreme circumstances, people sometimes regress to the behavior they exhibited in childhood
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Aubrey Bellia has watched her son, who is autistic, regress while away from Cartwright's developmental preschool program. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Two metro Phoenix school districts are moving to four-day weeks. How will working parents cope?," 10 June 2020 Now let’s turn to physics, in which the problem of infinite regress is deeper. Quanta Magazine, "Did the Chicken Come First or Is It Turtles All the Way Down?," 6 Feb. 2020 Just the Jags' luck that as soon as the offense begins ascending, the defense regresses. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL midseason report cards: 32 things we learned while grading the teams," 31 Oct. 2019 Twitter: @techchronicle In a week when WeWork was a work in regress, this also happened: • McDonald’s began letting job seekers start an application by using voice commands with Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant., "ICYMI: Mattel’s gender-neutral dolls; pope warns of AI dangers," 27 Sep. 2019 Using regress as a qualifier of civilizational achievement, after a long-lasting addiction to progress, seems unreal. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Greta Thunberg," 25 Sep. 2019 Even if the Giants’ offense regresses, fans should be encouraged by the performances of veterans who have a better chance of maintaining their success. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "What will it take for the Giants to keep this hot streak going?," 17 July 2019 Despite Carlson's seemingly amicable regress, and her costars' continued support, Estes admits the adjustment wasn't easy. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'Blue Bloods' Star Will Estes Opens Up About Amy Carlson's 'Shocking' Exit," 6 Oct. 2018 Yet if Keenum regresses, starts committing turnovers or can't consistently lead scoring drives, the Broncos will find themselves in the quarterback market again. Lindsay H. Jones, USA TODAY, "Broncos training camp questions: Is Case Keenum long-term answer at QB?," 28 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This process can drag on for months while vital services are put on hold and students may regress. John M. Mclaughlin, WSJ, "Military Families Need Portable Special Ed," 5 July 2020 Packers Aaron Rodgers always makes the Packers a threat, though his play regressed some last season. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "NFL power rankings: Detroit Lions not quite playoff quality after NFL draft, offseason," 28 May 2020 If your child regresses developmentally or emotionally, reach out right away to your school, your pediatrician, or a mental health professional. Mark Bertin, New York Times, "The Extra Burden for Parents of Children With Special Needs," 13 May 2020 Even in the seasons when New England’s offensive line was a weakness, the Patriots didn’t regress thanks to Brady's ability to dial up quick passes to get the ball in his playmakers’ hands. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "Who will replace Tom Brady as Patriots' QB? Evaluating all options, from Andy Dalton to Cam Newton," 17 Mar. 2020 Sleep regression and toddler potty training regressions are common, but psychologists say all children (and adults) may regress in times of stress. NBC News, "Child regression becomes common as schools shut down," 15 Apr. 2020 Goaltenders will often regress to an .870 SV% in short-handed situations, but Campbell heads into the second half with an .810 mark in that department. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Los Angeles Kings at Arizona Coyotes odds, picks and best bets," 30 Jan. 2020 National politics have evolved (or perhaps regressed) into reality television, transforming us into fiercely loyal superfans. Alain Sylvain, Quartz, "Why buying into pop culture and joining a cult is basically the same thing," 10 Mar. 2020 Of the five Cleveland school district schools in the neighborhood, three have seen their state report card ratings rise, one stayed the same and one regressed seriously. Patrick O'donnell, cleveland, "Slavic Village neighborhood groups rally behind schools with P-16: Cleveland City Champions," 15 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'regress.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of regress


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1522, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for regress


Middle English regresse, from Anglo-French, from Latin regressus, from regredi to go back, from re- + gradi to go — more at grade entry 1

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Time Traveler for regress

Time Traveler

The first known use of regress was in the 15th century

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Statistics for regress

Last Updated

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Regress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for regress


How to pronounce regress (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of regress

technical : to return to an earlier and usually worse or less developed condition or state
re·​gress | \ ri-ˈgres How to pronounce regress (audio) \

Medical Definition of regress

: to undergo or exhibit regression a regressing lesion

transitive verb

: to induce a state of psychological regression in regress a hypnotized subject

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More from Merriam-Webster on regress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for regress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with regress

Spanish Central: Translation of regress

Nglish: Translation of regress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of regress for Arabic Speakers

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