retreat

1 of 2

noun

re·​treat ri-ˈtrēt How to pronounce retreat (audio)
1
a(1)
: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable
(2)
: the process of receding from a position or state attained
the retreat of a glacier
b(1)
: the usually forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or from an advanced position
(2)
: a signal for retreating
c(1)
: a signal given by bugle at the beginning of a military flag-lowering ceremony
(2)
: a military flag-lowering ceremony
2
: a place of privacy or safety : refuge
3
: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

retreat

2 of 2

verb

retreated; retreating; retreats

intransitive verb

1
: to make a retreat : withdraw
2
: to slope backward

transitive verb

: to draw or lead back : remove
specifically : to move (a piece) back in chess
retreater noun
Choose the Right Synonym for retreat

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 retreat in a Sentence

Noun Some of her friends were surprised by her retreat from public life following her defeat in the election. we made a strategic retreat when we realized that we were outnumbered Verb When the enemy attacked, our troops were forced to retreat. They retreated behind trees for safety. He quickly retreated from the room. After her defeat, she retreated from politics. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Storied retreats and travel specialists are seeing an increase in men traveling for their health. February 19, 2024 All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. Prasad Ramamurthy, Condé Nast Traveler, 19 Feb. 2024 This country is a peaceful, eco-tourist retreat, home to more than 540 species of birds, 4,000 species of flowering plants, and 700 species of trees. Kathleen Peddicord, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 In the show, a group is invited to a retreat at a secluded resort in Iceland ... but soon, one of the guests is found dead. Keith Langston, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024 In November 2021, Modi’s announcement that the controversial laws would be repealed was widely seen as a win for the farmers and a rare retreat by the populist leader. Krutika Pathi, Quartz, 16 Feb. 2024 But along the other axis of attack, in the city of Kherson, Russian forces held out for a long time and then made a large and orderly retreat, saving much manpower and matériel. Keith Gessen, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2024 Foreseeing the possibility of an American retreat from the world if Mr. Trump returns to office, Congress recently passed legislation barring any president from withdrawing from the NATO treaty without Senate approval. Peter Baker, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 The council used the retreat as an opportunity to delve into the 2023 California Legislative Updates, understanding the implications for the city. Yan Zhao, The Mercury News, 11 Feb. 2024 That surprise appearance followed her presence at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2021 and preceded further steps into the public eye, after her retreat following a 2015 brain aneurism. Nina Corcoran, Pitchfork, 5 Feb. 2024
Verb
Sensing weakness as the 110th Brigade retreated, the Russian army attacked in several sectors along the 600-mile front of Russia’s two-year wider war on Ukraine. David Axe, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 In fact, Russia’s forces were defeated and retreated after suffering heavy losses. Serhiy Morgunov, Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2024 After his departure, Suzuki became a Jehovah’s Witness and retreated from music for over a decade. Spin Staff, SPIN, 10 Feb. 2024 Kids wear safety vests and have a dedicated room to retreat to for hot chocolate, a bathroom break, or simply to rest up before tackling the magic carpet again. Terry Ward, Travel + Leisure, 9 Feb. 2024 But scientists have documented how average mountain snowlines have been retreating higher over the last few decades because of warming, and have projected that much more of the snowpack will be lost as temperatures continue to rise. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2024 In the first stage, Israeli forces would retreat from Gaza’s residential areas. Michael Levenson, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2024 In one area, around 200 people retreated into side streets after police in riot gear fired tear gas and started detaining protesters. Reuters, CNN, 5 Feb. 2024 The aromas of bacon, BO, and barnyard in a wine have people retreating to camps, with one side welcoming these sometimes-pungent notes and others dismissing them right out of hand as defective. Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, Robb Report, 4 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'retreat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English retret, from Anglo-French retrait, from past participle of retraire to withdraw, from Latin retrahere, from re- + trahere to draw

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of retreat was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near retreat

Cite this Entry

“Retreat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/retreat. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

retreat

1 of 2 noun
re·​treat ri-ˈtrēt How to pronounce retreat (audio)
1
a
: an act of going away especially from something difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable
b
: a military retreat from the enemy
c
: a signal for retreating
2
: a place of privacy or safety : refuge
3
: a period of withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director
went on a spiritual retreat

retreat

2 of 2 verb
1
: to make a retreat
2
: to slope backward
retreater noun

Legal Definition

retreat

noun
re·​treat
: the act or process of withdrawing from a dangerous situation

Note: Many jurisdictions require that a person must have at least attempted a retreat, if it was possible to do so with safety, in order for a defense of self-defense to prevail. Retreat from an attack in one's own home, however, is usually not required.

retreat verb

More from Merriam-Webster on retreat

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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