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[verb ri-gres; noun ree-gres] /verb rɪˈgrɛs; noun ˈri grɛs/
verb (used without object)
to move backward; go back.
to revert to an earlier or less advanced state or form.
the act of going back; return.
the right to go back.
backward movement or course; retrogression.
Origin of regress
1325-75; Middle English regresse (noun) < Latin regressus a returning, going back, equivalent to re- re- + -gred-, combining form of gradī to step, walk, go + -tus suffix of v. action, with dt > ss
Related forms
regressor, noun
1. revert, retreat, backslide, lapse, ebb. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for regress
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My hand, bully; thou shalt have egress and regress;—said I well?

    The Merry Wives of Windsor William Shakespeare
  • They regress: they play with toys (fancy cars, watches, laptops).

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
  • Most of them will be shorter, however, and tend to regress toward the racial average.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • At every step there has been progress, but there has also been regress.

    Artist and Public Kenyon Cox
  • Age is for retreat, for regress toward a former day; it would say with the ancient poet, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul."

    The Quiver 12/1899 Anonymous
  • For the member at which we have discontinued our division still admits a regress to many more parts contained in the object.

British Dictionary definitions for regress


verb (rɪˈɡrɛs)
(intransitive) to return or revert, as to a former place, condition, or mode of behaviour
(transitive) (statistics) to measure the extent to which (a dependent variable) is associated with one or more independent variables
noun (ˈriːɡrɛs)
the act of regressing
movement in a backward direction; retrogression
(logic) a supposed explanation each stage of which requires to be similarly explained, as saying that knowledge requires a justification in terms of propositions themselves known to be true
Derived Forms
regressor, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin regressus a retreat, from regredī to go back, from re- + gradī to go
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for regress

late 14c., "act of going back," from Latin regressus "a return, retreat, a going back," noun use of past participle of regredi "to go back," from re- "back" (see re-) + gradi "to step, walk" (see grade (n.)).


1550s, "to return to a former state," from Latin regressus (see regress (n.)). Meaning "to move backward" is from 1823. The psychological sense of "to return to an earlier stage of life" is attested from 1926. Related: Regressed; regressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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