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[ri-trakt] /rɪˈtrækt/
verb (used with object)
to withdraw (a statement, opinion, etc.) as inaccurate or unjustified, especially formally or explicitly; take back.
to withdraw or revoke (a decree, promise, etc.).
verb (used without object)
to draw or shrink back.
to withdraw a promise, vow, etc.
to make a disavowal of a statement, opinion, etc.; recant.
Origin of retract2
1535-45; < Latin retractāre to reconsider, withdraw, equivalent to re- re- + tractāre to drag, pull, take in hand (frequentative of trahere to pull)
Related forms
retractable, retractible, adjective
retractability, retractibility, noun
[ree-trak-tey-shuh n] /ˌri trækˈteɪ ʃən/ (Show IPA),
unretractable, adjective
1, 2. deny, renounce, recant, abrogate, nullify, annul. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for retractable
Historical Examples
  • She slid it to the door entrance on its retractable casters.

    Code Three Rick Raphael
  • These motors were located near the rear lip of Valier's conical cargo section on retractable booms.

    Tight Squeeze Dean Charles Ing
  • Our retractable wings slid from their sockets and took hold of the thin atmosphere with a thump and a soft rustle.

    Stamped Caution Raymond Zinke Gallun
  • He jabbed a button, and a motor purred, rolling out the retractable radar antenna.

    Way of a Rebel Walter M. Miller
  • It had flaps which permitted slow landings and short take-offs, and it had retractable landing gear and variable-pitch propeller.

    The Golden Skull John Blaine
  • Personal luggage was stowed under the bunk, cupboards were built in, tables folded back and even the basin was retractable.

    Rich Living Michael Cathal
  • A type of retractable thimble or presser foot was used to hold the fabric down as required.

British Dictionary definitions for retractable


(transitive) to draw in (a part or appendage): a snail can retract its horns, to retract the landing gear of an aircraft
to withdraw (a statement, opinion, charge, etc) as invalid or unjustified
to go back on (a promise or agreement)
(intransitive) to shrink back, as in fear
(phonetics) to modify the articulation of (a vowel) by bringing the tongue back away from the lips
Derived Forms
retractable, retractible, adjective
retractability, retractibility, noun
retractation (ˌriːtrækˈteɪʃən) noun
retractive, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin retractāre to withdraw, from tractāre to pull, from trahere to drag
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 retractable

"capable of being drawn in," 1769; see retract + -able. Meaning "capable of being disowned" is recorded from 1610s. Also sometimes spelled retractible.



early 15c., "to draw (something) back," from Old French retracter (14c.) and directly from Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere "to draw back" (see retraction). Sense of "to revoke, recant, take back" is attested from 1540s, probably a back-formation from retraction. Related: Retracted; retracting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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