ret·​ro·​gress ˌre-trə-ˈgres How to pronounce retrogress (audio)
retrogressed; retrogressing; retrogresses

intransitive verb

: to move backward : revert

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As you might guess, retrogress is the opposite of progress. Retrogression is usually an undesirable decline from a higher or advanced level. So, for instance, in difficult social situations an adolescent can retrogress to a childish level of maturity. And under the extreme conditions of total war, a whole society may retrogress to a primitive state. The increasing number of poor or homeless people has been seen as evidence of modern social retrogression, and the rise of loud, name-calling TV and radio personalities strikes many people as a sign of political retrogression.

Examples of retrogress in a Sentence

the quality of research at the university lab has begun to retrogress since the massive budget cuts went into effect
Recent Examples on the Web After the 1960s, after the switch in—the shift in the strategy to gaining political clout, a lot of those trends stalled, slowed, even retrogressed. WSJ, 3 July 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'retrogress.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin retrogressus, past participle of retrogradi

First Known Use

1812, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of retrogress was in 1812

Dictionary Entries Near retrogress

Cite this Entry

“Retrogress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


ret·​ro·​gress ˌre-trə-ˈgres How to pronounce retrogress (audio)
: to move backward
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