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

First, there's the behavior of the steering wheel, which retracts to its closest position to the dashboard to make getting in and out easier—or at least should in theory. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Porsche’s Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a heck of a hybrid," 16 May 2018 The president of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, called on Schuster to retract his statement. Jewish Journal, "Israeli chief rabbi, European Jewish leaders, condemn calls to remove kipahs in Germany," 25 Apr. 2018 The bin occupies prime real estate on the center console, and yet its lid opens to an awkward angle and doesn't retract into the dashboard, sadly hanging above the stereo and climate controls. Daniel Miller,, "Nissan 370Z is a sports car anachronism — a fast one," 30 Mar. 2018 Even the landing legs have been redesigned to allow engineers to retract them after touchdown. William Harwood, CBS News, "SpaceX set to launch its first "block 5" Falcon 9 rocket," 10 May 2018 The statement released Monday doesn’t retract the earlier statement about the Medical Examiner’s Office finding or say that the case is being reopened. Gary Warth,, "Sheriff's Department to review Zahau death following civil trial decision," 16 Apr. 2018 By May 2016, Theranos retracted the results of tens of thousands of blood tests that doctors had used to care for patients over the previous two years. Samantha Masunaga,, "Theranos reportedly lays off most of its remaining employees," 11 Apr. 2018 At first, the plants would retract and curl their leaves when they were dropped. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?," 14 July 2018 Judge Ruth Lorch ruled the confessions obtained from the main defendant, Amiram Ben-Uliel, were inadmissible after the other defendants retracted their confessions, saying they were extracted under torture. Shlomi Diaz,, "Israeli Court strikes down key evidence in Duma arson case," 20 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

14 Oct 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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Comments on retract

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