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[verb ri-gres; noun ree-gres]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to move backward; go back.
  2. to revert to an earlier or less advanced state or form.
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  1. the act of going back; return.
  2. the right to go back.
  3. backward movement or course; retrogression.
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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 formsre·gres·sor, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged 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.


    James J. Walsh

  • At every step there has been progress, but there has also been regress.

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

British Dictionary definitions for regress


verb (rɪˈɡrɛs)
  1. (intr) to return or revert, as to a former place, condition, or mode of behaviour
  2. (tr) statistics to measure the extent to which (a dependent variable) is associated with one or more independent variables
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noun (ˈriːɡrɛs)
  1. the act of regressing
  2. movement in a backward direction; retrogression
  3. 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
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Derived Formsregressor, 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

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.)).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper