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 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 Being in a favorite place, now a tapestry of white, black, blue and gray, and getting cold while the Labs whined and wagged their tails for an opportunity to retrieve from frigid water was reason enough. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "At a quiet cabin in Alaska, all is calm — if not completely silent — for a dog easily spooked by fireworks," 9 Jan. 2021 Law enforcement instructed lawmakers to retrieve masks from under their seats amid the clashes., "Trump officials resign after Capitol mayhem," 7 Jan. 2021 As another ship of troopers lands, Mando, who got knocked out trying to retrieve Grogu from the seeing stone, finally wakes up. Lauren Morgan,, "The Mandalorian recap: Mando faces the most famous bounty hunter of them all," 4 Dec. 2020 The boxes will be installed by Department of Public Works staff, who will be accompanied by staff from the city's Election Commission to retrieve ballots from the old boxes. Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee absentee ballot drop boxes to be replaced this week with permanent versions," 27 Oct. 2020 Tuesday marked the first attempt OSIRIS-REx made to retrieve a sample from an asteroid on the outer reaches of the solar system named Bennu. Anne Ryman, The Arizona Republic, "'An amazing day:' University of Arizona team is optimistic they plucked sample from asteroid," 22 Oct. 2020 In 2011, Seracini and his colleagues received permission to drill six small holes into Vasari’s fresco and retrieve paint samples from a two-inch gap behind the later work. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Does Leonardo da Vinci’s Missing Masterpiece Actually Exist?," 14 Oct. 2020 Customers reserve, pay in advance and then retrieve their order from the provider. Anne Kadet, WSJ, "Save Money, Save the Environment and Help Local Restaurants. There’s an App for That," 13 Oct. 2020 Over 2½ days, 59 firefighters and 34 state prison inmates joined an improbable rescue, risking their lives to retrieve a bulldozer driver’s body from a ravine. San Francisco Chronicle, "The best of Chronicle storytelling," 1 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 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

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

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Retrieve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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