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
4a : rescue, salvage
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)

1 : retrieval
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 retrieve (audio) \ noun
retrievable \ ri-​ˈtrē-​və-​bəl How to pronounce retrieve (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 After realizing the owl was still inside the front portion of the vehicle, Gray called the conservancy, which sent a volunteer to help dislodge and retrieve the bird. David Aaro, Fox News, "Great horned owl travels hundreds of miles trapped in truck’s grille," 4 May 2021 The driver was given a courtesy ride to the Greyhound bus station in Cleveland, and Penske was contacted with instructions on how to retrieve its truck. Brian Lisik, cleveland, "Driver unaware his truck was reported stolen: Avon Police Blotter," 3 May 2021 My mom was instructed to meet at the boat late that night to retrieve our personal items. CNN, "We left my little brother and a world behind us when we escaped Vietnam by boat," 30 Apr. 2021 The system also responds to positive moods, like a promotion at work, Balter said, and would deliver or retrieve meditations for feelings of encouragement or gratitude. Nick Williams, Star Tribune, "Twin Cities woman, with Buddhist monk's help, creates tech to help people destress," 29 Apr. 2021 Software for the service was to be distributed on disks and users would dial in to retrieve updates. WSJ, " Turns 25," 29 Apr. 2021 The Get Transcript Service is for individual taxpayers to retrieve their transcripts for their own purposes. Leada Gore |, al, "Where’s my tax refund? IRS tips for getting your refund faster," 28 Apr. 2021 Months later, the Mexican army stopped a force of two hundred Americans who had been trying to cross the border to retrieve fugitive slaves. David S. Reynolds, The New York Review of Books, "When Slaves Fled to Mexico," 27 Apr. 2021 Anticouni plans to go to mediation with the Four Seasons at the end of April to retrieve the money if the hotel agrees to treat the case as a class-action lawsuit. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Employees of luxury California hotel demand $6 million in separation pay," 24 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One of my favorite ways to fish it is called the yo-yo retrieve. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "Pros’ 10 Best Bass Lures for Early Spring," 19 Mar. 2021 For poppers, stay with a retrieve fast enough to create a V-wake. Steve Culton, Field & Stream, "The Beginner’s Guide to Surfcasting for Striped Bass," 22 Mar. 2021 The little crankbait, just 2.25″ long, works well on a high-speed crank, and can be thrown a mile due to its ½ ounce weight and a rolling weight transfer system that sends the weight to the tail on the cast, then back to the nose on retrieve. Frank Sargeant, al, "Alabama fishing: Over the edge," 31 Jan. 2021 And while a steady retrieve works well enough at times, mixing other retrieves in can be key to scoring more frequently. Frank Sargeant, al, "More tricks with rattlebaits for bass," 24 Jan. 2021 Once the retrieve is ingrained, go on shed hunting hikes through open fields, food plots, and wooded areas. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "10 Modern Classic Hunting and Fishing Tips," 26 Nov. 2020 In my experience, the fast retrieve often catches the stripers that turned their noses up at everything else. John Merwin, Field & Stream, "The 25 Best Striper Surf Lures of All Time," 23 Oct. 2019 Large arbor for speedy line retrieve with customizable flat back surface for compatible decals. Mark Heim |, al, "Backcountry’s semi-annual sale offers deals on Patagonia, North Face, bikes, reels, tents, facemasks," 6 Aug. 2020 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

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Retrieve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for retrieve



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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