retreat

1 of 2

noun

re·​treat ri-ˈtrēt How to pronounce retreat (audio)
1
a(1)
: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable
(2)
: the process of receding from a position or state attained
the retreat of a glacier
b(1)
: the usually forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or from an advanced position
(2)
: a signal for retreating
c(1)
: a signal given by bugle at the beginning of a military flag-lowering ceremony
(2)
: a military flag-lowering ceremony
2
: a place of privacy or safety : refuge
3
: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

retreat

2 of 2

verb

retreated; retreating; retreats

intransitive verb

1
: to make a retreat : withdraw
2
: to slope backward

transitive verb

: to draw or lead back : remove
specifically : to move (a piece) back in chess
retreater noun
Choose the Right Synonym for retreat

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

Example Sentences

Noun Some of her friends were surprised by her retreat from public life following her defeat in the election. we made a strategic retreat when we realized that we were outnumbered Verb When the enemy attacked, our troops were forced to retreat. They retreated behind trees for safety. He quickly retreated from the room. After her defeat, she retreated from politics. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Each room is designed to be a personal retreat where guests can rest and re-energize amidst the best of mid-century modernism (a nod to the property’s roots), including a cocktail cart with inspired recipes. Byrachel King, Fortune, 4 Mar. 2023 But even after its retreat from Kherson and Mykolaiv, Russia has continued to attack hospitals and residential areas in the region. Naomi Schanen, Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2023 Naturally, the primary suite is a sublime retreat from the rest of the pad. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 23 Feb. 2023 The region is also a popular wellness retreat, with locals indulging in pampering at a day spa or yoga class at the Kurrara Historic Guest House. Travel + Leisure Editors, Travel + Leisure, 23 Feb. 2023 This protest demonstrated the left’s retreat from free speech. Russell Jacoby, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Feb. 2023 But some analysts argue the uptick in oil and gas production does not necessarily represent a retreat from cleaner power. Aaron Gregg, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Feb. 2023 The pool’s waters, surrounded by a rainforest, are a great retreat on hot days. Kristin Braswell, Condé Nast Traveler, 3 Feb. 2023 There are signs that the drop in home sales may have bottomed out, as the slight retreat from 7% mortgage rates lures some prospective homebuyers back into the market. Brian Cheung, NBC News, 1 Feb. 2023
Verb
Even if Lula takes action, the military may not retreat quickly from politics. Ana Ionova, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Jan. 2023 People have caught mice using canning jars fitted with interior prongs that narrow, so a mouse is funnelled forward and can’t retreat. Elizabeth Barber, The New Yorker, 24 Nov. 2022 Sometimes Texas failed to retreat quickly enough in transition, and other times the Longhorns allowed unimpeded drives to the basket. Mark Rosner, ajc, 18 Feb. 2023 Speculation is rife the Ukrainian government may retreat from Bakhmut to save civilian lives and preserve troops for other battles. Richard Engel, NBC News, 15 Feb. 2023 The gunman turns his fire towards the door, shooting 16 additional rounds and causing the officers to retreat. ABC News, 13 Feb. 2023 Jo compares the practice to a trend like quiet quitting, where employees silently retreat from their work after doing the base level of tasks to focus on their personal lives. Byprarthana Prakash, Fortune, 13 Feb. 2023 Let your love flourish in the Hamptons at this couples retreat at the minimalist modern sanctuary that is Shou Sugi Ban House. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Travel + Leisure, 27 Jan. 2023 Michael Gilman, economist with Lightcast, presented a summary of results at a Board of Trustees retreat on campus Friday afternoon. Garrett Moore, Arkansas Online, 21 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retreat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English retret, from Anglo-French retrait, from past participle of retraire to withdraw, from Latin retrahere, from re- + trahere to draw

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near retreat

Cite this Entry

“Retreat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/retreat. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

retreat

1 of 2 noun
re·​treat ri-ˈtrēt How to pronounce retreat (audio)
1
a
: an act of going away especially from something difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable
b
: a military retreat from the enemy
c
: a signal for retreating
2
: a place of privacy or safety : refuge
3
: a period of withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director
went on a spiritual retreat

retreat

2 of 2 verb
1
: to make a retreat
2
: to slope backward
retreater noun

Legal Definition

retreat

noun
re·​treat
: the act or process of withdrawing from a dangerous situation

Note: Many jurisdictions require that a person must have at least attempted a retreat, if it was possible to do so with safety, in order for a defense of self-defense to prevail. Retreat from an attack in one's own home, however, is usually not required.

retreat verb

More from Merriam-Webster on retreat

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Challenging Standardized Test Words, Vol. 2

  • a pencil broken in half on top of a test answer sheet
  • The business’s new computer system proved not to be a panacea.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY