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

Example Sentences

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
Take a cue from designer Tobias Petri, who created this minimal Alpine retreat for his family using materials found on-site. Helena Madden, ELLE Decor, 22 Nov. 2022 This, in turn, is leading to more retreat and still more melting. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2022 Though many coastal residents are reluctant to leave, inland retreat is a likely necessity for many. Boyce Upholt, WIRED, 19 Nov. 2022 After all, the BMW M badge is synonymous not only with performance, but with luxury, and these days, notions of luxury are increasingly intertwined with the quest for tranquility, rejuvenation and meditative retreat. Nick Czap, Robb Report, 16 Nov. 2022 Now many are seeing one another for the first time in months, after Moscow's latest retreat amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has retaken a pocket of territory wedged between the regional capitals of Kherson and Mykolaiv and the Black Sea. Sam Mednick, ajc, 15 Nov. 2022 Big tech’s retreat is a blow to the office market and to many city economies, which for several years have counted on the sector’s real estate appetite to power growth. Peter Grant, WSJ, 15 Nov. 2022 Tucked away in a cozy corner of Plymouth, Mass., is The Farmhouse, a breathtaking 10-acre retreat that Paul proudly calls his passion project. Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 11 Nov. 2022 In 2023 As these retreat attendees confirmed, recruitment tools and remote work are shaping the future of technical hiring. Tigran Sloyan, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2022
Verb
Ukraine has sought to avoid costly urban fighting by surrounding cities and forcing Russians to retreat. Ian Lovett, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2022 Then, Bilyard and others took on the police line, forcing officers to retreat. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 21 Oct. 2022 Ukraine’s forces made significant advances in the north last month, retaking the region of Kharkiv and forcing Putin's forces to retreat across Russian borders and deeper into the Donbas. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, 14 Oct. 2022 As Ukraine's military claimed more success Thursday in forcing its enemy to retreat from Kherson-area positions, Moscow authorities promised free accommodation to Kherson residents who choose to evacuate to Russia. Sabra Ayres, ajc, 13 Oct. 2022 As Ukraine's military claimed more success Thursday in forcing its enemy to retreat from Kherson-area positions, Moscow authorities promised free accommodation to Kherson residents who choose to evacuate to Russia. Sabra Ayres, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Oct. 2022 As Ukraine’s military claimed more success Thursday in forcing its enemy to retreat from Kherson-area positions, Moscow authorities promised free accommodation to Kherson residents who choose to evacuate to Russia. Sabra Ayres, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Oct. 2022 The counteroffensive has seen Russia’s frontline in the Kharkiv region collapse in less than a week, forcing thousands of its troops to retreat as Ukrainian troops have recaptured hundreds of square miles of territory, officials said. Patrick Reevell, ABC News, 12 Sep. 2022 On Tuesday, the Russian army advanced from the south, forcing Ukrainian troops to retreat from the small town of Svitlodarsk, lest the Russians envelop the town and trap soldiers inside. New York Times, 25 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retreat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 9 Dec. 2022.

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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