ret·​ro·​spect | \ˈre-trə-ˌspekt \

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

Even in stark retrospect, these conflicting elements do not rule out each other. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box,’ Adrienne Kennedy’s Beautiful Nightmare," 30 Jan. 2018 In retrospect, keeping Konerko or Cameron might have been the wise thing to do. John Fay,, "Reds beat blog: Would the Reds trade a closer (Iglesias) and/or an All-Star (Gennett)? They did both in one trade in 1998," 10 July 2018 In retrospect, departing from the ranking and placing Serena among the protected was wise. Jon Wertheim,, "Wimbledon Midterm Grades," 7 July 2018 That’s what makes Zooropa such a revelation in retrospect. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The unexpected resonance of Zooropa, U2’s least-remembered album, 25 years later," 5 July 2018 Musk has admitted trying to automate too much of the job, installing robots to do tasks that in retrospect were more easily handled by humans. David R. Baker,, "Tesla factory production jumps, and Model 3 hits elusive goal," 2 July 2018 The rules strengthen the regulators’ powers to prevent anti-competitive behaviour, rather than acting in retrospect when complaints are made, as now. The Economist, "European state rail firms face scrappy new competitors," 28 June 2018 Indeed, in retrospect Linkin Park stands out as a significant evangelist for both rock and rap. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Linkin Park Gave to Pop Music," 25 June 2018 In retrospect, did losing Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee (in free agency the summer of 2016) hurt more than signing Nic Batum helped? Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Answers to your Hornets questions on Miles Bridges, Timofey Mozgov and draft-night threats," 23 June 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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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 \

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 move with a clumsy heavy tread

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