verb re·tract \ri-ˈtrakt\

Definition of retract

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to draw back or in cats retract their claws

  3. 2a :  take back, withdraw retract a confessionb :  disavow

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to draw or pull back

  6. 2 :  to recant or disavow something


play \-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.

Did You Know?

The prefix re- ("back") gives retract the meaning of "draw back". Just as a cat retracts its claws into its paws when they aren't being used, a public figure may issue a retraction in order to say that he or she no longer wants to say something that has just been said. But it's sometimes hard to know what a retraction means: Was the original statement an error or an outright lie? Sometimes a politician even has to retract something that everyone actually assumes is the truth. Thousands of citizens were forced to publicly retract their "wrong" ideas by the Soviet government in the 1930s and the Chinese government in the 1960s. Someone wrongly accused may demand a retraction from his accuser—though today it seems more likely that he'll just go ahead and sue.

Origin and Etymology of retract

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

First Known Use: 15th century

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


verb re·tract \ri-ˈtrakt\

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




  1. 1 :  to pull back or in A cat can retract its claws.

  2. 2 :  to take back (as an offer or statement) :  withdraw

Medical Dictionary


verb re·tract \ri-ˈtrakt\

Medical Definition of retract

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

  2. intransitive verb

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

Seen and Heard

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contemplative of or relative to the past

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