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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The right thing was to refuse to retract the invitation. Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: They said she could invite a friend — and then changed their minds," 23 Apr. 2021 When the mower finds an obstruction, the rotation stops, and the blades retract back into the disks. Jim Rossman, Dallas News, "Hate mowing? Let the robot do it," 8 Apr. 2021 Obviously, Carlson was never going to apologize for or retract his remarks. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "Tucker Carlson sneers at critics as he doubles down on 'replacement theory' remarks," 12 Apr. 2021 Assemblyman Ron Kim, who has slammed the Governor’s handling of the virus in nursing homes, said recently that the Governor called to threaten him if Kim did not retract his criticism. Charlotte Alter, Time, "Andrew Cuomo Was a 'Resistance' Icon. Now There's 'Blood in the Water'," 2 Mar. 2021 The feature is reminiscent of Gmail's existing recall tool, which allows users up to 30 seconds to retract sending an email. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, "Twitter is testing an 'undo' option after sending tweets," 5 Mar. 2021 The hoses are buried under sections of your lawn and the sprinkler heads retract into the ground after watering for a streamlined look. Martha Sorren, Better Homes & Gardens, "8 Lawn Sprinklers That Take the Hard Work Out of Having a Green Lawn," 2 Mar. 2021 The Livingston County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Monday, criticizing the state's use of the index for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and called on the state to retract the plan, according to a Michigan Radio report. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Senate bill strips race, wealth, other factors from COVID-19 vaccine distribution criteria," 24 Feb. 2021 Carmaker Toyota recently complained about India’s high tax rate, only to later retract its statement. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz India, "Why are stressed Indian assets so attractive to foreign investors?," 25 Nov. 2020

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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Retract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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
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


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

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Comments on retract

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