re·​tract | \ ri-ˈtrakt How to pronounce retract (audio) \
retracted; retracting; retracts

Definition of retract

transitive verb

1 : to draw back or in cats retract their claws
2a : take back, withdraw retract a confession
b : disavow

intransitive verb

1 : to draw or pull back
2 : to recant or disavow something

Other Words from retract

retractable \ ri-​ˈtrak-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce retract (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of retract in a Sentence

A cat can retract its claws. The pilot retracted the plane's landing gear. The plane's landing gear failed to retract. Their college grants were retracted. They retracted the job offer.
Recent Examples on the Web Lateral arms connected to the mounting bar and front bar are what extend and retract the awning on both manual and motorized models. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 15 May 2022 Peplow refused to retract his endorsement and called the use of his title in support of Bronson free speech. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Apr. 2022 However, despite the digital investigation’s findings, the BBC refused to retract or apologize over the article. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 26 Jan. 2022 The windows retract entirely into the doors and the rear window retracts into the body, maximizing the open air experience. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 12 Apr. 2022 Meanwhile, the White House repeatedly asked Axios to retract its story — all to no avail. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 18 Mar. 2022 The deadline to confirm him is Friday, and because Republican Gov. Mike Parson didn’t retract his nomination, Kauerauf will be barred from serving after this week., 2 Feb. 2022 In his response to the complaint, Baller refused to apologize or retract his statement. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, 11 Nov. 2021 Inside the Buzz concept, the steering wheel could retract flush with the dashboard for a fully autonomous driving setting, while a head-up display took the place of a more traditional gauge cluster. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 9 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of retract

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for retract

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

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

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Retract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for retract


re·​tract | \ ri-ˈtrakt How to pronounce retract (audio) \
retracted; retracting

Kids Definition of retract

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


transitive verb
re·​tract | \ ri-ˈtrakt How to pronounce retract (audio) \

Medical Definition of retract

: to draw back or in retract the lower jaw — compare protract

intransitive verb

: to draw something (as tissue) back or in also : to use a retractor

More from Merriam-Webster on retract

Nglish: Translation of retract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retract for Arabic Speakers


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