re·​trieve | \ ri-ˈtrēv How to pronounce retrieve (audio) \
retrieved; retrieving

Definition of retrieve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to locate and bring in (killed or wounded game)
2 : to call to mind again
3 : to get back again : regain
b : to return (something, such as a ball or shuttlecock that is difficult to reach) successfully
5 : restore, revive his writing retrieves the past
6 : to remedy the evil consequences of : correct
7 : to get and bring back especially : to recover from storage retrieve information

intransitive verb

: to bring in game a dog that retrieves well also : to bring back an object thrown by a person



Definition of retrieve (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : the successful return of a ball that is difficult to reach or control (as in tennis)

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Other Words from retrieve


retrievability \ ri-​ˌtrē-​və-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce retrievability (audio) \ noun
retrievable \ ri-​ˈtrē-​və-​bəl How to pronounce retrievable (audio) \ adjective

Examples of retrieve in a Sentence

Verb Many archaeological relics were retrieved from the site. Police retrieved his stolen car. You can quickly retrieve data. The files were retrieved from the computer. He was able to retrieve the document. The dog is learning how to retrieve. The dog has been trained to retrieve birds.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Claimants must provide valid forms of identification and various types of documentation to retrieve such assets. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona paid $42.5 million in unclaimed assets to rightful owners — here's how to see if you have any," 6 Aug. 2020 The victim, who lives on the 2600 block of South Shore Boulevard, had gone out to retrieve a package and was assaulted in her garage by a female suspect. oregonlive, "Lake Oswego police search for clues after assault of 74-year-old woman in her home," 5 Aug. 2020 One indelible image was of a short, stocky worker in a morgue, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, bending down to retrieve a shooting victim covered in a white cloth. Washington Post, "With his camera, Gordon Parks humanized the Black people others saw as simply criminals," 5 Aug. 2020 Abel Castellanos, the girl's 25-year-old father, was injured after going into the water to retrieve his daughter, and was airlifted to a Houston trauma center, Blue Bonnet News reported. Jason Duaine Hahn,, "Two Teens Die While Trying to Save 5-Year-Old Girl From Texas River: 'True Heroes'," 4 Aug. 2020 Police were able to retrieve the money lost by the seller. cleveland, "Online ‘friend’ scams money from elderly woman: Chagrin Falls Police Blotter," 29 July 2020 Emergency workers had to slog through heavy mud to retrieve bodies by wrapping them in the plastic sheets, which were then hung on crossed wooden poles shouldered by the recovery teams., "Landslide at Myanmar jade mine kills at least 162 people," 2 July 2020 The clinic’s staff wanted to get the remaining fifteen or twenty rabbits out of the building immediately, but many of the owners were away and unable to retrieve them on short notice. Susan Orlean, The New Yorker, "The Rabbit Outbreak," 29 June 2020 Customers who have devices in those stores for repair will have the weekend to retrieve them. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "Apple to close 11 stores in response to rising coronavirus cases in several states," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If that doesn’t work, or only attracts small fish, let the lure sink from a few inches to a few feet, then begin a jerking retrieve. Gerald Almy, Field & Stream, "The 7 Best Lures for Smallmouth Bass in Rivers," 18 June 2020 Anglers that change up the directions of their casts, rigging, and the speed of their retrieve put more fish in the boat. Tom Keer, Field & Stream, "19 Ways to Avoid Pissing Off Your Fishing Guide," 16 June 2020 That’s not an issue on overcast days or in turbid water, so slow down your retrieve in darker conditions. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, "How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Spinnerbait Tips from Kevin VanDam," 16 June 2020 The difference between a big catch and meager results can be something as subtle as letting a spinnerbait drop 6 inches next to the shady side of stumps as opposed to making a steady retrieve, or dragging a worm on bottom instead of hopping it. Mark Hicks, Field & Stream, "10 Ways to Catch More Largemouth Bass," 15 June 2020 Cast your frog parallel to the bank, then work it back with a steady retrieve. Steve Price, Field & Stream, "How to Fish for Bass with Topwater Frog Lures," 19 May 2020 Yes, the retrieve could have been a little smoother, but this is not going to be your finesse reel. Mark Modoski, Field & Stream, "The 20 Best Fishing Reels, Ranked and Reviewed," 3 Apr. 2017 Cast to the bank or tight to cover, and either bring it back slow and sultry with a hand-twist retrieve, or strip it in short 1- and 2-inch strips. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The Best Flies for Catching Panfish," 12 Mar. 2020 With a scoop shape similar to a shovel, this simple yet innovative crankbait naturally skitters, switches direction, and changes its vibration on a straight retrieve. Field & Stream, "The Best Hunting and Fishing Gear of the Decade," 27 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retrieve.' 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 retrieve


1814, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for retrieve


Middle English retreven, from Anglo-French retrueve-, present stem of retrover to find again, from re- + trover to compose, invent, find, from Vulgar Latin *tropare — more at troubadour

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Time Traveler for retrieve

Time Traveler

The first known use of retrieve was in 1658

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Statistics for retrieve

Last Updated

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Retrieve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for retrieve


How to pronounce retrieve (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of retrieve

: to get and bring (something) back from a place
: to find and get (information) from a computer or disk
: to find and bring birds or animals that have been shot back to a hunter


re·​trieve | \ ri-ˈtrēv How to pronounce retrieve (audio) \
retrieved; retrieving

Kids Definition of retrieve

1 : to get and bring back One of the players retrieved the ball.
2 : to find and bring back killed or wounded game The dog learned to retrieve birds.

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Comments on retrieve

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