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 retract

1535–45; < Latin retractāre to reconsider, withdraw, equivalent to re- re- + tractāre to drag, pull, take in hand (frequentative of trahere to pull)
Related formsre·tract·a·ble, re·tract·i·ble, adjectivere·tract·a·bil·i·ty, re·tract·i·bil·i·ty, nounre·trac·ta·tion [ree-trak-tey-shuhn] /ˌri trækˈteɪ ʃən/, nounun·re·tract·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for retract Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for retractable

Historical Examples of retractable

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for retractable



(tr) 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)
(intr) to shrink back, as in fear
phonetics to modify the articulation of (a vowel) by bringing the tongue back away from the lips
Derived Formsretractable or retractible, adjectiveretractability or retractibility, nounretractation (ˌriːtrækˈteɪʃən), nounretractive, adjective

Word Origin for retract

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

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