return

1 of 3

verb

re·​turn ri-ˈtərn How to pronounce return (audio)
returned; returning; returns

intransitive verb

1
a
: to go back or come back again
return home
b
: to go back in thought, practice, or condition : revert
2
: to pass back to an earlier possessor
3

transitive verb

1
a
: to give (something, such as an official account) to a superior
b
British : to elect (a candidate) as attested by official report or returns
c
: to bring back (something, such as a writ or verdict) to an office or tribunal
2
a
: to bring, send, or put back to a former or proper place
b
: to restore to a former or to a normal state
3
a
: to send back : visit
usually used with on or upon
b
obsolete : retort
4
: to bring in (profit) : yield
5
a
: to give or perform in return : repay
return a compliment
also : to respond to in kind
returned his calls
b
: to give back to the owner
c
: reflect
return an echo
6
: to cause (something, such as a wall) to continue in a different direction (as at a right angle)
7
: to lead (a specified suit or specified card of a suit) in response to a partner's earlier lead
8
a
: to hit back (a ball or shuttlecock)
b
: to run with (a football) after a change of possession (as by a punt or a fumble)
returner noun

return

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: the act of coming back to or from a place or condition
b
: a regular or frequent returning : recurrence
2
a(1)
: the delivery of a legal order (such as a writ) to the proper officer or court
(2)
: an endorsed certificate stating an official's action in the execution of such an order
(3)
: the sending back of a commission with the certificate of the commissioners
b
: an account or formal report
c(1)
: a report of the results of balloting
usually used in plural
election returns
(2)
: an official declaration of the election of a candidate
(3)
chiefly British : election
d(1)
: a formal statement on a required legal form showing taxable income, allowable deductions and exemptions, and the computation of the tax due
(2)
: a list of taxable property
3
a
: the continuation usually at a right angle of the face or of a member of a building or of a molding or group of moldings
b
: a means for conveying something (such as water) back to its starting point
4
a
: a quantity of goods, consignment, or cargo coming back in exchange for goods sent out as a mercantile venture
b
: the value of or profit from such venture
c(1)
: the profit from labor, investment, or business : yield
(2)
returns plural : results
d
: the rate of profit in a process of production per unit of cost
5
a
: the act of returning something to a former place, condition, or ownership : restitution
the return of stolen goods
b
: something returned
especially, returns plural : unsold publications returned to the publisher for cash or credit
6
a
: something given in repayment or reciprocation
a return on their years of hard work
b
7
: an answering play: such as
a
: a lead in a suit previously led by one's partner in a card game
b
: the action or an instance of returning a ball (as in football or tennis)
8
chiefly British : round-trip

return

3 of 3

adjective

1
a
: having or formed by a change of direction
a return facade
b
: doubled on itself
a return flue
2
a
: played, delivered, or given in return
return fire from the enemy
b
: taking place for the second time
a return meeting for the two champions
3
: used or taken on returning
the return road
4
: returning or permitting return
a return valve
5
: of, relating to, or causing a return to a place or condition
use the prestamped return envelope
Phrases
in return
: in reciprocation, compensation, or repayment
Choose the Right Synonym for return

reciprocate, retaliate, requite, return mean to give back usually in kind or in quantity.

reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received.

reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them for a visit

retaliate usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully.

the enemy retaliated by executing their prisoners

requite implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently.

requited her love with cold indifference

return implies a paying or giving back.

returned their call
return good for evil

Examples of return in a Sentence

Verb We waited for you to return. She is returning home tomorrow. I'm leaving but will return at 2 p.m. I have to return a book to the library. I'm returning your ladder. Thanks for letting me borrow it. The dishes were broken when they were delivered, so I had to return them. I had to return the shirt and get a bigger size. His jealousy returned when he saw his ex-wife with her new husband. Noun We are looking forward to your return. We're looking forward to our return to Europe. The team looked forward to his return to coaching. a return to the old ways of farming the department's return to normal The people celebrated their leader's return to power.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Who is the host of 'Big Brother'? Julie Chen Moonves returns as the host for Season 26, according to CBS. Gabe Hauari, USA TODAY, 18 July 2024 King Charles returned alone in 2023, for his first State Opening as Britain’s new monarch, following the death of the Queen in September 2022. Armani Syed, TIME, 17 July 2024
Noun
But Cullinan ruled out a full-scale return for these sculptures, which were removed from Greece during the early 19th century by a British nobleman and have remained in London ever since. Alex Greenberger, ARTnews.com, 18 July 2024 For now, the response to the band’s live return — watching one cruise turn into two, then amphitheater shows beget arena gigs — has been humbling for the members. Jason Lipshutz, Billboard, 18 July 2024
Adjective
The Crew-2 astronauts, fielding questions from reporters Friday during an orbital pre-return news conference. William Harwood, CBS News, 6 Nov. 2021 Any Jacobs: Age: Not listed on his website, and Jacobs did not return questions sent by IndyStar. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, 31 May 2020 See all Example Sentences for return 

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French returner, from re- + turner, tourner to turn — more at turn

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

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

Adjective

1676, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of return was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near return

Cite this Entry

“Return.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/return. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

return

1 of 3 verb
re·​turn ri-ˈtərn How to pronounce return (audio)
1
a
: to come or go back
b
: to go back in thought or practice
returned to his old ways
2
3
: to make an official report of
the jury returned a verdict
4
British : to elect to office
5
: to bring, carry, send, or put back
return a book to the library
return borrowed money
6
: to bring in (as profit) : yield
7
a
: to give or perform in return
return a compliment
b
: to respond to in a similar way
return kindness with kindness
c
: to give back to the owner
return that lawnmower
8
a
: to hit back (as a tennis ball)
b
: to run with (a football) after the possession of the ball changes from one team to the other (as by a fumble or a punt)
returner noun

return

2 of 3 noun
1
a
: the act of coming back to or from a place or condition
b
: a regular or frequent occurrence : recurrence
the return of spring
2
a
: a report of the results of voting
usually used in plural
election returns
b
: a statement of income to be taxed
a tax return
3
: a means for bringing something (as water) back to its starting point
4
: the profit from labor, investment, or business : yield
5
a
: the act of returning something to an earlier place, condition, or ownership
b
: something returned
6
: something given in payment or exchange
ask nothing in return for a favor
7
: the action or an instance of returning a ball (as in tennis or football)

return

3 of 3 adjective
1
: played or given in return
a return call
a return game
2
: used for returning
a return ticket
3
: of, relating to, or causing a return to a place or condition
a return envelope

Legal Definition

return

1 of 2 transitive verb
re·​turn
1
a
: to give (an official account or report) to a superior (as by a list or statement)
return the names of all residents in the ward
return a list of jurors
b
: to bring back (as a writ, verdict, or indictment) to an office or tribunal
the sheriff must return the execution…to the proper clerk within sixty daysJ. H. Friedenthal et al.
the grand jury returned six indictments
returned a verdict of not guilty
2
: to bring in or produce (as earnings or profit) : yield
returnable adjective

return

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: the delivery of a court order (as a writ) to the proper officer or court
2
3
: an account or formal report (as of an action performed or duty discharged or of facts and statistics)
census returns
especially : a set of tabulated statistics prepared for general information
usually used in pl.
4
a
: a report of the results of balloting
election returns
b
: an official declaration of the election of a candidate
each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own membersU.S. Constitution art. I
5
: a formal document executed in accordance with law on a required form showing taxable income, allowable deductions and exemptions, and the computation of the tax due

called also tax return

6
: the profit from labor, investment, or business : yield
7
: something returned
specifically : a paper (as a check or draft) calling for payment that is returned by a bank to the clearinghouse because of a defect (as lack of funds or insufficient endorsement)

More from Merriam-Webster on return

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