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

retrogress, return, revert

Antonyms: Verb

advance, develop, evolve, progress

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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


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

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 There’s also something stunted about Anderson’s eternal regress to age twelve. Christian Lorentzen, The New Republic, "The earnest, ironic stylings of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs”," 21 Mar. 2018 Venezuela remains the most dramatic case of democratic regress in Latin America. The Economist, "BelloHow Venezuela tests Latin America’s commitment to democracy," 1 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Outsiders believed the program was regressing to the previous norm before Dantonio's arrival. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "On cusp of history, Mark Dantonio still thirsts for greatness at Michigan State," 14 Sep. 2019 Texas’ defense should regress for a second consecutive season. Christopher Smith, al, "Week 2 SEC football betting preview," 7 Sep. 2019 WR Amari Cooper, Cowboys: Terribly inconsistent and could regress with a big payday. Cory Bonini, USA TODAY, "Fantasy football: Late-round players to grab, avoid in your draft," 28 Aug. 2019 Now, with the trade war continuing, spending by travelers from China is regressing, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Dan Levin, Fortune, "The Trade War’s Invisible Damage," 27 Aug. 2019 Kentucky has regressed big-time thanks to severe personnel losses . Christopher Smith, al, "Week 2 SEC football betting preview," 7 Sep. 2019 After trading their top three relievers at the July 31 trade deadline, the Marlins bullpen has naturally regressed over the past month. Wells Dusenbury,, "Since trade deadline, Marlins’ bullpen has been worst in the league; ‘Reinforcements’ on the way," 25 Aug. 2019 A day after being named the leader in the Dolphins quarterback competition by coach Brian Flores, Fitzpatrick regressed in Wednesday’s practice. Safid Deen,, "Dolphins training camp Day 6: Stock up, stock down and other observations," 31 July 2019 The nation has progressed forward, and regressed grievously, in fits and spasms on an epic scale. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, "A Play with No End," 22 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

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on regress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with regress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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