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ret·​ro·​spect ˈre-trə-ˌspekt How to pronounce retrospect (audio)
: a review of or meditation on past events
archaic : reference to or regard of a precedent or authority


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retrospected; retrospecting; retrospects

intransitive verb

: to engage in retrospection
: to refer back : reflect

transitive verb

: to go back over in thought
in retrospect
: in considering the past or a past event

Example Sentences

Noun in retrospect, we should have saved more money for college
Recent Examples on the Web
Every season finale so far has come as a surprise to viewers, with the breadcrumbs laid throughout the season visible only in retrospect. Vulture, 25 May 2023 In retrospect, there were people on their side and mine that were worried that Def Jam wouldn’t know what to do with me. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 17 May 2023 In retrospect, Henrich is grateful for the experience. Morra Aarons-mele, Fortune Well, 15 May 2023 This pattern, visible in an Upshot analysis of census microdata, is startling in retrospect. Josh Katz, New York Times, 15 May 2023 In retrospect, staying with BOMP! would have been the move. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 9 May 2023 In her breakthrough role, Essoe plays an aspiring actress who risks everything, including her soul, to be cast in a movie made by the mysterious, in retrospect, rather Miramax-esque Astraeus Pictures. Clark Collis,, 14 Apr. 2023 What Gordon offered was not exactly filmmaking, but, in retrospect, something like the raw materials of our cultural future. Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune, 5 May 2023 In a separate report also released Friday, the FDIC blamed the failure of Signature Bank on mismanagement and said, in retrospect, its staff could have acted sooner. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 May 2023
Pressure to raise money for research, the allure of unrestricted donations for novel ideas and the aura of star scholars may have contributed to decisions that in retrospect look tawdry. Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2019 In retrospect people hate Darvish, but at the time of the trade most Dodger fans were ecstatic. Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug. 2019 Her political commentaries, though no doubt engrossing at their time of publication, seem in retrospect rather ragged and dog-eared, like the moldering magazines one finds in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 Apr. 2018
In retrospect the unfolding of Watergate in the press and the courts and Congress is our American Oresteia. Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books, 1 July 2021 See More

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

Word History



probably from retro- + prospect

First Known Use


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1701, in the meaning defined above


1659, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of retrospect was in 1601

Dictionary Entries Near retrospect

Cite this Entry

“Retrospect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a looking back on or a thinking about past events

More from Merriam-Webster on retrospect

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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