ret·​ro·​spect | \ ˈre-trə-ˌspekt How to pronounce retrospect (audio) \

Definition of retrospect

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 archaic : reference to or regard of a precedent or authority
2 : a review of or meditation on past events
in retrospect
: in considering the past or a past event



Definition of retrospect (Entry 2 of 3)


retrospected; retrospecting; retrospects

Definition of retrospect (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to engage in retrospection
2 : to refer back : reflect

transitive verb

: to go back over in thought

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Examples of retrospect in a Sentence


in retrospect, we should have saved more money for college

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In retrospect, the desire for anonymity had a stink about it. Alexander Huls, Popular Mechanics, "The Great Star Wars Heist," 7 Mar. 2019 In retrospect, this should have been a big hint about what was coming. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger," 14 Jan. 2019 In retrospect, the cracks in Myler’s organization were glaring. Abigail Higgins, Vox, "How the “white-savior industrial complex” failed Liberia’s girls," 24 Oct. 2018 So Solid was in retrospect, not a mistake, but the motorik repetition is kind of a cliché. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "Jon Hassell at 81: Visionary Composer-Trumpeter Reflects on a Half Century of Music on His Own Terms," 28 June 2018 In retrospect, though, his reaction was a masterpiece of compassion. Geoff Kronik,, "I always thought I was fine with not becoming a father. But then I wasn’t.," 22 June 2018 In retrospect, that’s probably what inspired me to write cookbooks myself. Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "My Lifelong Love of Julia Child Led Me to Her Favorite Restaurant, Chez Georges In Paris," 23 May 2018 The Justice Department’s case against Microsoft obviously made the list — and, in retrospect, it’s been credited with giving Google (which was also founded in 1998) space to grow. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "The biggest video games, tech news, and apocalyptic anxieties of 1998," 29 Dec. 2018 This would, in retrospect, have been a big mistake, since the technology was fake. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "There never were any “adults in the room”," 21 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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, "'See What Can Be Done' is a testament to the breadth of Lorrie Moore’s intellect," 2 Apr. 2018

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


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1701, in the meaning defined above


1659, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for retrospect


probably from retro- + prospect

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Last Updated

22 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retrospect

The first known use of retrospect was in 1601

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More Definitions for retrospect


ret·​ro·​spect | \ ˈre-trə-ˌspekt How to pronounce retrospect (audio) \

Kids Definition of retrospect

: a looking back on things past In retrospect, I made the right decision.

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More from Merriam-Webster on retrospect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retrospect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for retrospect

Spanish Central: Translation of retrospect

Britannica English: Translation of retrospect for Arabic Speakers

Comments on retrospect

What made you want to look up retrospect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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