ret·​ro·​dict ˌre-trə-ˈdikt How to pronounce retrodict (audio)
retrodicted; retrodicting; retrodicts

transitive verb

: to utilize present information or ideas to infer or explain (a past event or state of affairs)
retrodiction noun
retrodictive adjective

Did you know?

We predict that you will guess the correct origins of retrodict, and chances are we will not contradict you. English speakers had started using predict by at least the late 16th century; it's a word formed by combining prae- (meaning "before") and dicere (meaning "to say"). Since the rough translation of predict is "to say before," it's no surprise that when people in the early 20th century wanted a word for "predicting" the past, they created it by combining the prefix for "backward" (retro-) with the -dict of predict. Other dicere descendants in English include contradict, benediction, dictate, diction, and dictionary.

Word History


retro- + predict

First Known Use

1940, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of retrodict was in 1940


Dictionary Entries Near retrodict

Cite this Entry

“Retrodict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!