See more synonyms for retch on
verb (used with object)
  1. to vomit.
  1. the act or an instance of retching.

Origin of retch

1540–50; variant of reach, Old English hrǣcan to clear the throat (not recorded in ME), derivative of hrāca a clearing of the throat; compare Old Norse hrǣkja to hawk, spit
Can be confusedretch wretch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for retching

Contemporary Examples of retching

Historical Examples of retching

  • Retching, he had dirtied the glossy green scales of his chest.

    Equation of Doom

    Gerald Vance

  • Her voice was almost unrecognizable, broken in retching agony.


    Edward Elmer Smith

  • I leaned against the railing of stone, sick as a dog and retching.

  • The most common methods of finishing are retching and burnishing.

  • He dropped Jason and fell to the floor, retching and gasping.


    Harry Harrison

British Dictionary definitions for retching


  1. (intr) to undergo an involuntary spasm of ineffectual vomiting; heave
  2. to vomit
  1. an involuntary spasm of ineffectual vomiting

Word Origin for retch

Old English hrǣcan; related to Old Norse hrǣkja to spit
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 retching



1540s, originally "to clear the throat, to cough up phlegm," from Old English hræcan "to cough up, spit" (related to hraca "phlegm"), from Proto-Germanic *khrækijanan (cf. Old High German rahhison "to clear one's throat"), of imitative origin (cf. Lithuanian kregeti "to grunt"). Meaning "to make efforts to vomit" is from 1850; sense of "to vomit" is first attested 1888. Related: Retched; retching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

retching in Medicine


  1. To try to vomit.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.