[verb ree-tuhch; noun ree-tuhch, ree-tuhch]

verb (used with object)

to improve with new touches, highlights, or the like; touch up or rework, as a painting or makeup.
Photography. to alter (a negative or positive) after development by adding or removing lines, lightening areas, etc., with a pencil, brush, or knife.
to dye, tint, or bleach (a new growth of hair) to match or blend with the color of an earlier and previously dyed growth.


an added touch to a picture, painting, paint job, etc., by way of improvement or alteration.
an act or instance of dyeing new growth of hair to blend with previously dyed hair.

Origin of retouch

1675–85; < Middle French retoucher, equivalent to re- re- + toucher to touch
Related formsre·touch·a·ble, adjectivere·touch·er, nounun·re·touched, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for retouch

Historical Examples of retouch

  • This Celestial-living is here, at our door, but we cannot retouch it without Act of God.

    The Prodigal Returns

    Lilian Staveley

  • Give me my palette; I want to retouch the forehead of my hero.


    Augusta Jane Evans Wilson

  • Retouch it, therefore, trying to get the whole to look quite one piece.

  • Shall I call, when in the neighbourhood of Loughton Castle, and retouch it?

    Miles Tremenhere, Vol 1 of 2

    Annette Marie Maillard

  • After it is dry, retouch the cheeks and lips with the same color.

    Crayon Portraiture

    Jerome A. Barhydt

British Dictionary definitions for retouch


verb (tr)

to restore, correct, or improve (a painting, make-up, etc) with new touches
photog to alter (a negative or print) by painting over blemishes or adding details
to make small finishing improvements to
archaeol to detach small flakes from (a stone) in order to make a tool


the art or practice of retouching
a detail that is the result of retouching
a photograph, painting, etc, that has been retouched
archaeol fine percussion to shape flakes of stone into usable tools
Derived Formsretouchable, adjectiveretoucher, noun
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 retouch

1640s, from French retoucher (13c.) "to touch again" (with a view to improving), from re- "again" (see re-) + toucher (see touch (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper