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 regress (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 Logan continued to receive a partial school day for years as Pearson watched him regress. Sarah Butrymowicz, USA TODAY, 25 Mar. 2021 As this shift to e-commerce kicks off, grocery chains are also continuing to evolve loyalty and retention programs with an eye on a future that may see sales regress to pre-pandemic levels. Jonathan Treiber, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2021 Put that with a defense that finished first in the NFL in turnovers created (29), and sixth overall in points allowed last season, and the Dolphins should be a force in 2021 if the defense doesn’t regress, which is possible. Omar Kelly,, 24 Feb. 2021 Los Angeles is forking over eye-popping compensation, but coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead had publicly signaled their dissatisfaction with Goff, who has appeared to regress since signing that $134 million contract in September 2019. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 31 Jan. 2021 How did Oregon, a top 15 defense in most every statistic a year ago but particularly stout against the run and at creating negative plays, regress so far so fast? oregonlive, 30 Nov. 2020 The former Cardinals head coach and Steelers offensive coordinator has seen his offense regress compared with the rest of the league since adding Brady. Star Tribune, 10 Dec. 2020 Turning the clock back would be social regress, not reform. Richard Morrison, National Review, 23 Nov. 2020 Stafford plays well in a tough spot and gets the Lions shockingly above .500 while the Colts regress more to the mean. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 30 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Avoid the temptation to regress to the old way of doing things. Jeanne Hardy, Forbes, 8 June 2021 One of the biggest questions heading into the offseason program, which is wrapping up the first week of on the field work, is whether Flores’ defense will progress or will regress in 2021? Omar Kelly,, 19 May 2021 Also, those scary COVID color tiers have finally begun to regress all over California from purple to red to orange, and vaccine-shot selfies are filling my feeds. Christian Reynoso, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Apr. 2021 Kids who do feel unsafe might begin to regress, exhibiting poor sleep or eating patterns, nightmares, or clinginess., 26 Mar. 2021 If a reckoning is postponed, American conservatism will continue to regress. Garry Kasparov, WSJ, 21 Jan. 2021 The Browns went 4-6 after the bye, and Mayfield continued to regress, ultimately finishing second-last in the NFL with a 78.8 rating, and with 21 interceptions for second-most in the NFL. cleveland, 20 Dec. 2020 The 4-year-old posted a decisive win in an optional-claimer at Ellis Park in August while making his first start for trainer Brad Cox but seemed to regress at Pimlico. Wire Services,, 24 Nov. 2020 The shot-making on offense should be a drastic improvement from the last two seasons, but the defense can't afford to regress even after losing two high-level defenders like Naji Marshall and Jones. Adam Baum, The Enquirer, 19 Nov. 2020

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

Cite this Entry

“Regress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for regress



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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