ret·​ro·​grade | \ ˈre-trə-ˌgrād How to pronounce retrograde (audio) \

Definition of retrograde

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1) : having or being motion in a direction contrary to that of the general motion of similar bodies and especially east to west among the stars Saturn is retrograde for another week
(2) : having or being a direction of rotation or revolution that is clockwise as viewed from the north pole of the sky or a planet a retrograde orbit
b : moving, occurring, or performed in a backward direction
c : occurring or performed in a direction opposite to the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow: such as
(1) : occurring along nerve cell processes toward the cell body retrograde degeneration of nerve fibers — compare anterograde sense 1a
(2) : occurring opposite to the normal direction or path of blood circulation retrograde blood flow in veins with incompetent valves — compare anterograde sense 1b
d : contrary to the normal order : inverse
2 : tending toward or resulting in a worse or previous state
3 archaic : contradictory, opposed
4 : characterized by retrogression
5 : affecting memories of a period prior to a precipitating event (such as brain injury or disease) retrograde amnesia — compare anterograde sense 2
6 : retro retrograde fashion



Definition of retrograde (Entry 2 of 3)


retrograded; retrograding; retrogrades

Definition of retrograde (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

archaic : to turn back : reverse

intransitive verb

1a : to go back : retreat
b : to go back over or recapitulate something
2 : to decline to a worse condition

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Other Words from retrograde


retrogradely adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for retrograde

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Retrograde describes backwardness of one kind or another. If a country decided to go back to amputating the limbs of criminals, we might call that policy retrograde. A retrograde view of women might be one that sees them basically as housekeepers. Mars and Jupiter show retrograde (backward) motion at some stages of their orbits, though this is only because of the way we see them from the earth, not because of any real backward movement.

Examples of retrograde in a Sentence

Adjective a retrograde policy that would leave more people poorer than they are now retrograde pedaling will engage the brakes on that bike Verb the Dark Ages, the period following the fall of the Roman Empire when Western civilization seriously retrograded
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Powered by the 359-part PF339 automatic-winding movement, the watch offers a retrograde indication for the date, day and month, and at 6:00 displays the moonphase in both hemispheres. Roberta Naas, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 The answer seemed to be delivered in the first half Saturday as Michigan ran a retrograde offense that hearkened back to a bygone era — or maybe just the early days of Harbaugh’s tenure. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 12 Sep. 2021 The second happens when Mercury is retrograde and reverses back over this degree, which is when mistakes may be reviewed and corrected. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, 23 Dec. 2020 The spy’s treatment of women is as retrograde as ever: He is seen patting women on their behinds at the spy agency’s headquarters in Paris. New York Times, 14 Aug. 2021 From July 14 to November 8, for instance, the asteroid Pallas will be retrograde in the sign of dreamy Pisces. Elizabeth Gulino,, 14 July 2021 Once a Masonic temple, the museum had the retrograde decadence of a Parisian palace. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 Cue the bleating anger from some fans, the weak-kneed squeamishness from some retrograde corners of the league. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, 23 June 2021 Since the former president’s departure from the national stage, the state GOP, run by retrograde Trump cultists, has gone to war with the governor, which only reinforces Baker’s appeal with Democratic and independent voters., 23 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And what price did the Longhorns pay for this simplistic, retrograde thinking? Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, 2 Oct. 2021 The former vision of nature as peacefully depopulated is a convenient fiction, both retrograde and historically inaccurate. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 5 July 2021 Mars takes approximately six to seven weeks to transit a zodiac sign and goes retrograde every two years. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, 4 July 2021 The same day, ambitious Mars stations retrograde in Aries, encouraging us to turn inwards. Venus Australis,, 7 Sep. 2020 Messenger Mercury stations direct in Cancer on July 12, after having been retrograde since June 18. Venus Australis,, 1 July 2020 Baumgartner pungently emphasizes the moral distance between supposedly retrograde Mexico and the putatively forward-looking US. David S. Reynolds, The New York Review of Books, 27 Apr. 2021 Without further ado, the dates Mercury will retrograde in 2021 are: 30th January to 20th February, in Aquarius. Elizabeth Gulino,, 31 Jan. 2021 Other current and former aides have spoken about seemingly retrograde requirements such as pressure to wear makeup, dresses and heels. Jesse Mckinley, New York Times, 19 Mar. 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


circa 1620, in the meaning defined above


1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for retrograde


Middle English, from Latin retrogradus, from retrogradi


Latin retrogradi, from retro- + gradi to go — more at grade entry 1

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Learn More About retrograde

Time Traveler for retrograde

Time Traveler

The first known use of retrograde was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near retrograde



retrograde canon

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Statistics for retrograde

Last Updated

11 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Retrograde.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for retrograde



English Language Learners Definition of retrograde

: returning to an earlier and usually worse state or condition
: moving backward


ret·​ro·​grade | \ ˈre-trə-ˌgrād How to pronounce retrograde (audio) \

Medical Definition of retrograde

1 : characterized by retrogression
2 : affecting memories of a period prior to a precipitating event (as brain injury or disease) In retrograde amnesia, the victim can remember only what has happened since he lost his memory; everything before that is irretrievable.— Jean Seligmann, Newsweek, 29 Sept. 1986 — compare anterograde sense 1
3 : occurring or performed in a direction opposite to the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow: as
a : occurring along nerve cell processes toward the cell body retrograde axonal transport retrograde degeneration of nerve fibers
b : occurring opposite to the normal direction or path of blood circulation apply bandaging to the lower extremities to produce pressure to reduce retrograde blood flow in veins with incompetent valves — compare anterograde sense 2

Other Words from retrograde

retrogradely adverb
The ablation catheter was then inserted through the right femoral arterial sheath and advanced retrogradely into the left ventricle. — Warren M. Jackman, The New England Journal of Medicine, 6 June 1991

More from Merriam-Webster on retrograde

Nglish: Translation of retrograde for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retrograde for Arabic Speakers


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