re·trieve | \ ri-ˈtrēv \
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 \ noun
retrievable \ri-ˈtrē-və-bəl \ adjective

Examples of retrieve in a Sentence


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

When the discussion moved to how much the switch would cost him, Kovaci disappeared into his house to retrieve his wife. Erica L. Green,, "Teachers unions hustle to ensure their survival after Janus decision," 14 July 2018 The man had gone into the water to retrieve something — possibly a Frisbee — when the incident happened shortly after 7 p.m., Fire Rescue spokeswoman Ashley Gipson said. Dan Wine,, "Man suffers 'possible gator bite' at Barnett Park in Orange County, authorities say," 13 July 2018 During a traffic stop, officers noticed a plastic bag with a white substance inside the center console after Neally opened it to retrieve his insurance information, police said. Elizabeth Owens-schiele,, "Buffalo Grove police: Man faces charges after traffic stop turns up cocaine, marijuana," 13 July 2018 Tim Nolan wanted to retrieve some of his property and sent a representative to his home in southern Campbell County who found the locks changed. Scott Wartman,, "From a Kentucky prison, former judge and convicted sex offender Tim Nolan files suit against his daughters," 12 July 2018 Further messages recovered indicated that Baldwin Jr. had also arranged to retrieve about $700 in methamphetamine to sell. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "Authorities charge 2 more men in death of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett," 11 July 2018 And with the cave flooding, there was no chance to retrieve gear that had been placed in the cave to keep the boys alive. Bradley J. Fikes,, "Diving masks from San Marcos company helped rescue of Thai boys from cave," 11 July 2018 While authorities are racing against time, as rain reportedly started to come down on Sunday evening, the rescue team will now need 10 to 20 hours before starting the second phase of the operation to retrieve the remaining eight players and coach. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Eight Thai Soccer Team Members Rescued From Flooded Cave (Updated)," 9 July 2018 Rescuers have been working to lower the water level in the cave to prepare for an hours-long mission to retrieve the boys, ages 11 to 16, most of whom can’t swim. Erin Corbett, Fortune, "4 Boys Freed From Thailand Cave as Rescue Mission Begins," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The event featured a big air, extreme vertical, speed retrieve and iron dog competitions. Lindsey Salvatelli, Lake County News-Sun, "High-flying dogs make a splash at Libertyville Dog Days," 8 July 2018 Both are short, fat floaters that wobble down to a foot or two on a steady retrieve. Joe Songer,, "See video of a turkey hunter calling up a bobcat," 30 Apr. 2018 Make contact with the rocks on the high bluff sides and then slow your retrieve. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Fishing report: Uneven weather makes for mixed results on the water | The Kansas City Star," 28 Mar. 2018 Some anglers use a larger, lightly weighted swimbait to catch these guys, allowing it to flutter down through the surface action before starting the retrieve. Frank Sargeant,, "Find the bait, find the bass," 30 Aug. 2017 Too slow a retrieve gives the fish too much time to shake off. Mark Yuasa, The Seattle Times, "Lake trout, rainbows and kokanee top the “to do” list of fishing activities around Lake Chelan," 19 May 2017 Too fast a retrieve allows the fish leverage to tear off the hooks. Mark Yuasa, The Seattle Times, "Lake trout, rainbows and kokanee top the “to do” list of fishing activities around Lake Chelan," 19 May 2017 Minnich said the best way to fish it for shallow-water reds is with a steady retrieve. Todd Masson,, "This trout lure even better for redfish, angler says," 17 May 2017

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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Statistics for retrieve

Last Updated

25 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retrieve

The first known use of retrieve was in 1658

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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 \
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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