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 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 By making Elastigirl no more than an extension of her family, Incredibles 2 regresses to a time when any power women managed to acquire was carefully controlled so as not constitute a threat to the male order. Andrea Thompson, Chicago Reader, "Incredibles 2 : Who’s afraid of the superpowered woman?," 29 June 2018 There would be a possible upset scenario if Good Magic improves and Justify regresses. Joe Sullivan,, "In Preakness, the coast looks clear for Justify," 17 May 2018 Even if Drew Brees regresses or gets hurt, the running game can carry the offense. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Picking the 2018 win total over/under for all 32 NFL teams," 1 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Over those five games, Darnold has been sacked 16 times, thrown nine interceptions, fumbled twice and regressed in his production. Jim Saranteas, USA TODAY, "Fantasy football deep sleepers: Mohamed Sanu makes his mark with Patriots," 17 Nov. 2019 That reality: The program has sharply regressed in the last calendar year, losing 11 of its last 15 games. Joey Knight,, "USF fan unrest is at a fever pitch following Bulls’ embarrassing loss to Temple," 8 Nov. 2019 In meetings this year the company also reported that tumors regressed in about half of a larger group of 13 lung cancer patients. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "Two new drugs finally hit ‘undruggable’ cancer target, providing hope for treatments," 30 Oct. 2019 But that knowledge didn't translate to wins as the 17th manager in the franchise history of the Angels, who regressed in his sole season with a poor pitching staff and several underperforming position players. Greg Beacham,, "Angels fire manager Cheshire native Brad Ausmus after 72-90 record in only season," 30 Sep. 2019 As a result of her trauma, the little girl began to regress in foster care, having difficulty eating, drinking and using the toilet, according to her attorney. Washington Post, "Claims: Migrant kids split at border harmed in foster care," 16 Aug. 2019 There were growing levels of toxicity at the Emirates towards the latter end of Wenger's time, with many fans feeling the club were regressing and that a new approach was needed to move into a new era., "Arsene Wenger Describes Coming Out of Arsenal 'Coma' & Reveals Why He Hasn't Been Back to Club Yet," 8 Sep. 2019 The Panthers need that number to drop, allow the meteoric rise of running back Christian McCaffrey to continue and hope Newton doesn’t regress in his ninth NFL season. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "NFC preview: Will new coaching staff propel Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay back to title chase?," 5 Sep. 2019 Epstein gave Bote some security with a five-year, $15 million deal on April 4, but Bote’s defense regressed and his offensive output wasn’t what the Cubs expected, particularly against left-handed pitching. Paul Sullivan,, "Column: Addison Russell is gone. Whether he’ll return to the Cubs is anyone’s guess.," 24 July 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

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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

19 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Regress.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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

Comments on regress

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