re·​trench ri-ˈtrench How to pronounce retrench (audio)
retrenched; retrenching; retrenches

transitive verb

: to cut out : excise
: to pare away : remove

intransitive verb

: to make retrenchments
specifically : economize
Choose the Right Synonym for retrench

shorten, curtail, abbreviate, abridge, retrench mean to reduce in extent.

shorten implies reduction in length or duration.

shorten a speech

curtail adds an implication of cutting that in some way deprives of completeness or adequacy.

ceremonies curtailed because of rain

abbreviate implies a making shorter usually by omitting some part.

using an abbreviated title

abridge implies a reduction in compass or scope with retention of essential elements and a relative completeness in the result.

the abridged version of the novel

retrench suggests a reduction in extent or costs of something felt to be excessive.

declining business forced the company to retrench

Examples of retrench in a Sentence

When the economy slowed, the company was forced to retrench.
Recent Examples on the Web When institutions and individuals are threatened by new ideas, there is always a temptation to retrench. Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Sep. 2023 Companies with in-house venture-capital arms such as French energy company Total are retrenching by selling assets after collapsing startup values led them to rethink how to invest. Rod James, WSJ, 21 Aug. 2023 One employee noted that morale was soaring internally after a year of layoffs and retrenching at the company. Mike Isaac, New York Times, 6 July 2023 Katie Hafner: So pretty much all of Los Alamos then retrenched around a different design, an implosion weapon that would become the Trinity device and then the Fat Man bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. Katie Hafner, Scientific American, 3 Aug. 2023 The rub, says Hanke, is that the Fed is still proceeding with its money-squeezing QT, at a rate of $95 billion a month, while the banks retrench. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 30 May 2023 Russian forces retreated from the city of Kherson -- the only major regional capital to be briefly occupied by Russian forces -- in November of last year, retrenching across the Dnipro River just north of the Crimean Peninsula. Christian Schneider, National Review, 22 June 2023 Shutdowns weren’t nearly as widespread, but continued waves of coronavirus infection caused factories to shutter and people to retrench from economic life. New York Times, 29 Dec. 2021 The falling demand has pushed ocean shipping lines to sharply retrench their operations, a departure from previous downturns that have seen carriers fight for diminishing container volumes by offering lower prices, sending ships out with freight rates that barely covered operational costs. Costas Paris, WSJ, 16 June 2020 See More

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

Word History


obsolete French retrencher (now retrancher), from Middle French retrenchier, from re- + trenchier to cut

First Known Use

1587, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of retrench was in 1587

Dictionary Entries Near retrench

Cite this Entry

“Retrench.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​trench ri-ˈtrench How to pronounce retrench (audio)
: to reduce expenses

More from Merriam-Webster on retrench

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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