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

Other Words from regress


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for regress

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 Defensively, Wood might as well have not even been on the court, and actually seemed to somehow regress last season from the previous year. Rahat Huq, Chron, 21 June 2022 In theory, demand is easy to forecast: regress demand against income growth and prices, dataseries of which can be downloaded in seconds. Michael Lynch, Forbes, 6 June 2022 Kaepernick's play started to regress in 2014 and he got hurt halfway through the next season and lost his starting job. Josh Dubow,, 25 May 2022 The guys also give a short recap of the Jazz’s regular season — one that saw them regress record-wise. Xoel Cardenas, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Apr. 2022 Several months after moving in, Ziona started to regress. New York Times, 29 Mar. 2022 Leto and Hathaway have the slightly unenviable task of playing characters who neither learn nor grow, but rather regress and devolve, so the conflicts between them and their co-stars are often repeated. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2022 But when schools shut down, Michelle O’Neal saw Janae regress in reading and math. Perry Stein, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Mar. 2022 Should a runner take insufficient rest, add too much stress, or a combination of both, their gains will likely stall or regress, ending up with them being burnt out or injured. Rick Prince, Outside Online, 18 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Conversely, when organizations steer clear of major incidents over time, cybersecurity budgets tend to regress to the mean. Jim Deloach, Forbes, 21 June 2022 An athlete that pushes to pain will aerobically regress, even with consistent training, as their base foundation erodes away. Brendan Leonard, Outside Online, 30 Aug. 2020 The aerobic system can even regress, as musculoskeletal output and biomechanical efficiency go down with it. Brendan Leonard, Outside Online, 30 Aug. 2020 Which is to regress in time, to invade childhood or injustice. Ilana Luna, Harper’s Magazine , 25 May 2022 Cease’s slider was a strong pop up generator (13.9% pop up rate), though his low 14.9% liner rate was largely due to random chance and is likely to regress to the mean moving forward. Tony Blengino, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 In all, the Raptors had six players reach double figures against a Cleveland defense that continues to regress without All-Star center Jarrett Allen. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 24 Mar. 2022 Their bullpen was lights out, but a bullpen is bound to regress. Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 6 Apr. 2022 But a hazy quarterback situation and lack of a first-round pick are reasons to wonder if the Niners, who haven't reached postseason in back-to-back seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch, might regress. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 31 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

24 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Regress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for regress


intransitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on regress

Nglish: Translation of regress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of regress for Arabic Speakers


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