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

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 How to pronounce retractable (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The three co-defendants, according to the newspaper, retracted their original claims. Ariana Brockington,, "The Story Behind ABC’s New True Crime Drama For Life," 10 Feb. 2020 The lead can retract or advance at a click, and uses Pentel’s tough, smooth writing lead. Popular Science, "The best mechanical pencils for drafting or drawing," 5 Feb. 2020 Under pressure from Congress, the inspector general in 2017 retracted and purged from its website the Louisiana flooding report, followed the next year with a dozen other audits of FEMA's initial responses., "Homeland Security watchdog whitewashed FEMA disaster audits, including for Louisiana," 15 Aug. 2016 The Starliner's docking collar was extended and retracted, the capsule made radio contact with the space station, tested key navigation systems and executed a series of rocket firings to verify rendezvous procedures. William Harwood, CBS News, "Boeing Starliner descends to picture-perfect New Mexico landing after shortened mission," 22 Dec. 2019 With the press of a button, the glass walls in the living room retract seamlessly joining the inside space with the pool terrace beyond. Maria Pasquini,, "The Biggest Home Ever Built in the Hollywood Hills Sells for $35.5 Million — See Inside!," 13 Dec. 2019 The network never retracted or apologized for the story and had gone to trial to defend it. Stephen Battaglio,, "Analysis: Why TV networks may be afraid of investigative stories," 2 Dec. 2019 These claims, since retracted, worked for Trump politically. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The White House knew Trump’s Ukraine call was problematic, and tried to hide it," 26 Sep. 2019 All tools open from the outside (with the handles closed and the pliers retracted). Popular Mechanics, "The 2019 Popular Mechanics Tool Awards," 14 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for retract

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for retract

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Retract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for retract


How to pronounce retract (audio)

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


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
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on retract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for retract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retract

Spanish Central: Translation of retract

Nglish: Translation of retract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retract for Arabic Speakers

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