verb re·tract \ ri-ˈtrakt \
|Updated on: 5 Aug 2018

Definition of retract

retracted; retracting; retracts
1 : to draw back or in
  • cats retract their claws
2 a : take back, withdraw
  • retract a confession
b : disavow
1 : to draw or pull back
2 : to recant or disavow something


play \ri-ˈtrak-tə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of retract in a Sentence

  1. A cat can retract its claws.

  2. The pilot retracted the plane's landing gear.

  3. The plane's landing gear failed to retract.

  4. Their college grants were retracted.

  5. They retracted the job offer.

Recent Examples of retract from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of retract

Middle English, from Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere — more at retreat

Synonym Discussion of retract

abjure, renounce, forswear, recant, retract mean to withdraw one's word or professed belief. abjure implies a firm and final rejecting or abandoning often made under oath.
    • abjured the errors of his former faith
renounce may carry the meaning of disclaim or disown.
    • renounced abstract art and turned to portrait painting
forswear may add an implication of perjury or betrayal.
    • I cannot forswear my principles
recant stresses the withdrawing or denying of something professed or taught.
    • if they recant they will be spared
retract applies to the withdrawing of a promise, an offer, or an accusation.
    • the newspaper had to retract the story
recede, retreat, retract, back mean to move backward. recede implies a gradual withdrawing from a forward or high fixed point in time or space.
    • the flood waters gradually receded
retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached.
    • retreating soldiers
retract implies drawing back from an extended position.
    • a cat retracting its claws
back is used with up, down, out, or off to refer to any retrograde motion.
    • backed off on the throttle

RETRACT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of retract for English Language Learners

  • : to pull (something) back into something larger that usually covers it

  • : to say that something you said or wrote is not true or correct

  • : to take back (something, such as an offer or promise)

RETRACT Defined for Kids


verb re·tract \ ri-ˈtrakt \

Definition of retract for Students

retracted; retracting
1 : to pull back or in
  • A cat can retract its claws.
2 : to take back (as an offer or statement) : withdraw

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb re·tract \ ri-ˈtrakt \

medical Definition of retract

: to draw back or in
  • retract the lower jaw
— compare protract
: to draw something (as tissue) back or in; also : to use a retractor

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