ret·​ro·​grade | \ ˈre-trə-ˌgrād How to pronounce retrograde (audio) \

Definition of retrograde

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1) : having or being motion in a direction contrary to that of the general motion of similar bodies and especially east to west among the stars Saturn is retrograde for another week
(2) : having or being a direction of rotation or revolution that is clockwise as viewed from the north pole of the sky or a planet a retrograde orbit
b : moving, occurring, or performed in a backward direction
c : occurring or performed in a direction opposite to the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow: such as
(1) : occurring along nerve cell processes toward the cell body retrograde degeneration of nerve fibers — compare anterograde sense 1a
(2) : occurring opposite to the normal direction or path of blood circulation retrograde blood flow in veins with incompetent valves — compare anterograde sense 1b
d : contrary to the normal order : inverse
2 : tending toward or resulting in a worse or previous state
3 archaic : contradictory, opposed
4 : characterized by retrogression
5 : affecting memories of a period prior to a precipitating event (such as brain injury or disease) retrograde amnesia — compare anterograde sense 2
6 : retro retrograde fashion



Definition of retrograde (Entry 2 of 3)


retrograded; retrograding; retrogrades

Definition of retrograde (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

archaic : to turn back : reverse

intransitive verb

1a : to go back : retreat
b : to go back over or recapitulate something
2 : to decline to a worse condition

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Other Words from retrograde


retrogradely adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for retrograde

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Retrograde describes backwardness of one kind or another. If a country decided to go back to amputating the limbs of criminals, we might call that policy retrograde. A retrograde view of women might be one that sees them basically as housekeepers. Mars and Jupiter show retrograde (backward) motion at some stages of their orbits, though this is only because of the way we see them from the earth, not because of any real backward movement.

Examples of retrograde in a Sentence

Adjective a retrograde policy that would leave more people poorer than they are now retrograde pedaling will engage the brakes on that bike Verb the Dark Ages, the period following the fall of the Roman Empire when Western civilization seriously retrograded
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But yesterday’s revolution can come to seem retrograde. New York Times, 5 May 2022 Despite the retrograde motion of both our outer planets, Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, and several asteroids like Chiron, Pallas, and Juno, there’s a steady forward motion to the week. Gala Mukomolova,, 3 Aug. 2021 Here, time is displayed via a retrograde function at the fountain’s base on a 12-hour scale with a sliding feather indicator. Paige Reddinger, Robb Report, 30 Mar. 2022 Some of the tropes might come off as markedly retrograde, especially considering the open minds about gender elsewhere, but Kaczmarek takes a more theatrical approach to clothing—more like costume design and less like a statement of identity. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 27 Jan. 2022 But while the character is the kind of flashy New York boss that women of color rarely get to portray, having a South Asian woman invent a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional parents is retrograde. Washington Post, 2 Jan. 2022 When Biden announced the summit, back in August, the goal seemed to be to reëstablish America’s standing in the world by championing human rights and democratic practices in the wake of the retrograde foreign policy of the Trump Administration. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, 30 Nov. 2021 Lisa Stardust, the author of Saturn Return Survival Guide and The Astrology Deck, tells Refinery29 that this is because the pre-retrograde zone began on May 14, and the post-retroshade zone will end on July 7. Elizabeth Gulino,, 31 May 2021 On matters of race, Welch was also a retrograde force. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 23 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Republicans are adopting such regressive, retrograde politics at the precise moment when matters of race have emerged in the public’s consciousness and Black Americans have gained more visibility and influence in business and higher education. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 2 May 2022 The chaotic vibes continue when Mercury goes retrograde on 10th May in Gemini. Elizabeth Gulino,, 18 Apr. 2022 Sparked by a year that submits to Venus in Capricorn and anchored by the conjunctions that Mercury, Venus, and Mars make to Saturn in Aquarius on March 2, March 28, and April 4, respectively, before Saturn, too, stations retrograde. Gala Mukomolova,, 28 Dec. 2021 Others, however, embrace that retrograde vibe to become something far more basic. Caroline Framke, Variety, 11 Apr. 2022 Finally, on January 30, speedy Mercury stations retrograde in quirky Aquarius, encouraging us to slow down. Venus Australis,, 1 Jan. 2021 Others, morally retrograde members of society, will resist and face denunciation for their recalcitrance. Damon Linker, The Week, 26 Oct. 2021 On May 24, Venus in Gemini will form an opposition to retrograde Juno (which Montúfar calls the asteroid of commitment) in Sagittarius. Elizabeth Gulino,, 7 May 2021 But in the context of rapidly evolving conversations about gender diversity, with real stakes for trans and non-binary people, the musical’s central maneuver feels cheap, retrograde and like little more than a gimmick. Naveen Kumar, Variety, 5 Dec. 2021 See More

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


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


circa 1620, in the meaning defined above


1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for retrograde


Middle English, from Latin retrogradus, from retrogradi


Latin retrogradi, from retro- + gradi to go — more at grade entry 1

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Learn More About retrograde

Time Traveler for retrograde

Time Traveler

The first known use of retrograde was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near retrograde



retrograde canon

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Statistics for retrograde

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Retrograde.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for retrograde


ret·​ro·​grade | \ ˈre-trə-ˌgrād How to pronounce retrograde (audio) \

Medical Definition of retrograde

1 : characterized by retrogression
2 : affecting memories of a period prior to a precipitating event (as brain injury or disease) In retrograde amnesia, the victim can remember only what has happened since he lost his memory; everything before that is irretrievable.— Jean Seligmann, Newsweek — compare anterograde sense 1
3 : occurring or performed in a direction opposite to the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow: as
a : occurring along nerve cell processes toward the cell body retrograde axonal transport retrograde degeneration of nerve fibers
b : occurring opposite to the normal direction or path of blood circulation apply bandaging to the lower extremities to produce pressure to reduce retrograde blood flow in veins with incompetent valves — compare anterograde sense 2

Other Words from retrograde

retrogradely adverb
The ablation catheter was then inserted through the right femoral arterial sheath and advanced retrogradely into the left ventricle. — Warren M. Jackman, The New England Journal of Medicine

More from Merriam-Webster on retrograde

Nglish: Translation of retrograde for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retrograde for Arabic Speakers


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