re·​tract | \ri-ˈtrakt \
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

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Other Words from retract

retractable \ri-​ˈtrak-​tə-​bəl \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But in March 2017, a related paper was retracted by Nature Communications following a review by the Swedish Central Ethical Review Board. Matt Warren, Science | AAAS, "Disgraced surgeon is still publishing on stem cell therapies," 27 Apr. 2018 His attorney, Thomas Mars, disagreed with Ole Miss' decision to do so, calling for the school to retract its statement. Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press, "ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit: Let Michigan football's Shea Patterson play," 17 Apr. 2018 There had been public reporting on the 215 program, including a report by USA Today in May of 2006 (though the newspaper was forced to retract portions of the story pertaining to the sources of the data collected by the NSA). Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?," 21 Nov. 2018 Kemp has been urged to retract his words of support in light of the allegations. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Stacey Abrams on Why Survivors Don't Report—And Why We Must Believe Them Anyway," 25 Sep. 2018 That triggers a mechanism to immediately retract the belt and lock it into place, removing slack and helping to pull a front-seat occupant’s body back just before the impact, reducing injury risk. Allison Prang, WSJ, "Ford Recalls Two Million Trucks After Reports of Seat-Belt Malfunction," 6 Sep. 2018 Here’s a look at Trump’s dilemma and what his options are: Under pressure to retractTrump is under tremendous pressure by his own party to apologize for his remarks. Anne Flaherty, The Seattle Times, "Trump embraced Putin, America groaned. What happens next?," 17 July 2018 And now as of Friday, the president seems to have fully retracted any support previously given. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Between Tweeting and Meetings, Trump Can't Seem to Make up His Mind on Immigration Legislation," 22 June 2018 At another journal, Anesthesiology, editors had looked over the papers and found no reason to retract any of them. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "Following charges of flawed statistics, major medical journal sets the record straight," 13 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for retract

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retract

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

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More Definitions for retract



English Language Learners Definition of retract

: 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)


re·​tract | \ri-ˈtrakt \
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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on retract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for retract

Spanish Central: Translation of retract

Nglish: Translation of retract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retract for Arabic Speakers

Comments on retract

What made you want to look up retract? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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