re·​tract | \ ri-ˈtrakt How to pronounce retract (audio) \
retracted; retracting; retracts

Definition of retract

transitive verb

1 : to draw back or in cats retract their claws
2a : take back, withdraw retract a confession
b : disavow

intransitive verb

1 : to draw or pull back
2 : to recant or disavow something

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Other Words from retract

retractable \ ri-​ˈtrak-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce retract (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for retract

abjure, renounce, forswear, recant, retract mean to withdraw one's word or professed belief. abjure implies a firm and final rejecting or abandoning often made under oath. abjured the errors of his former faith renounce may carry the meaning of disclaim or disown. renounced abstract art and turned to portrait painting forswear may add an implication of perjury or betrayal. I cannot forswear my principles recant stresses the withdrawing or denying of something professed or taught. if they recant they will be spared retract applies to the withdrawing of a promise, an offer, or an accusation. the newspaper had to retract the story

recede, retreat, retract, back mean to move backward. recede implies a gradual withdrawing from a forward or high fixed point in time or space. the flood waters gradually receded retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached. retreating soldiers retract implies drawing back from an extended position. a cat retracting its claws back is used with up, down, out, or off to refer to any retrograde motion. backed off on the throttle

Examples of retract in a Sentence

A cat can retract its claws. The pilot retracted the plane's landing gear. The plane's landing gear failed to retract. Their college grants were retracted. They retracted the job offer.
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Recent Examples on the Web The poured concrete space has a glass wall overlooking Beverly Hills that can retract, giving the space an indoor/outdoor feel. Amanda Lauren, Forbes, 23 Oct. 2021 Hummer pickups will be four-door crew cabs with four-panel removable roofs and rear windows that retract to create a roomy five-seat convertible. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 4 Oct. 2021 Before the event, Rogge said the Chinese government would not censor the Internet for journalists, only for the IOC to retract the statement and admit Internet censorship. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 29 Aug. 2021 Earlier this summer, Hong Kong’s decision to exempt bankers from full quarantine drew criticisms and, authorities were forced to retract the policy within weeks. Mary Hui, Quartz, 19 Aug. 2021 Its alerts are snappy at an average of two seconds, sending notifications complete with a clear screenshot of my attempt to retract my arm from the camera’s line of sight. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, 31 Aug. 2021 Powell also continued her falsehoods after the company asked her to retract her statement, Dominion said. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, 24 June 2021 The Mid-Valley’s Main Stage Theatre is a 439-seat proscenium theater with a deep stage area and a balcony — and whose front seats can retract under the stage for an orchestra pit. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 May 2021 Japanese lawmakers and voters have sharply criticized efforts to restrict hospitalizations, and members of the ruling party on Thursday called on the government to retract the policy. Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for retract

Middle English, from Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere — more at retreat

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Time Traveler for retract

Time Traveler

The first known use of retract was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

26 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Retract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for retract



English Language Learners Definition of retract

: to pull (something) back into something larger that usually covers it
: to say that something you said or wrote is not true or correct
: to take back (something, such as an offer or promise)


re·​tract | \ ri-ˈtrakt How to pronounce retract (audio) \
retracted; retracting

Kids Definition of retract

1 : to pull back or in A cat can retract its claws.
2 : to take back (as an offer or statement) : withdraw


transitive verb
re·​tract | \ ri-ˈtrakt How to pronounce retract (audio) \

Medical Definition of retract

: to draw back or in retract the lower jaw — compare protract

intransitive verb

: to draw something (as tissue) back or in also : to use a retractor

More from Merriam-Webster on retract

Nglish: Translation of retract for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retract for Arabic Speakers


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