[ ri-trakt ]
See synonyms for: retractretractedretractation on

verb (used with object)
  1. to draw back or in:to retract fangs.

verb (used without object)
  1. to draw back within itself or oneself, fold up, or the like, or to be capable of doing this: The blade retracts.

Origin of retract

1400–50; late Middle English retracten<Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere to draw back, equivalent to re-re- + tractus (see tract1)

Other definitions for retract (2 of 2)

[ ri-trakt ]

verb (used with object)
  1. to withdraw (a statement, opinion, etc.) as inaccurate or unjustified, especially formally or explicitly; take back.

  2. to withdraw or revoke (a decree, promise, etc.).

verb (used without object)
  1. to draw or shrink back.

  2. to withdraw a promise, vow, etc.

  1. 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)

Other words for retract

Other words from retract

  • re·tract·a·ble, re·tract·i·ble, adjective
  • re·tract·a·bil·i·ty, re·tract·i·bil·i·ty, noun
  • re·trac·ta·tion [ree-trak-tey-shuhn], /ˌri trækˈteɪ ʃən/, noun
  • un·re·tract·a·ble, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use retract in a sentence

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

    Tight Squeeze | Dean Charles Ing
  • Personal luggage was stowed under the bunk, cupboards were built in, tables folded back and even the basin was retractable.

    Rich Living | Michael Cathal
  • 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
  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for retract


/ (rɪˈtrækt) /

  1. (tr) to draw in (a part or appendage): a snail can retract its horns; to retract the landing gear of an aircraft

  2. to withdraw (a statement, opinion, charge, etc) as invalid or unjustified

  1. to go back on (a promise or agreement)

  2. (intr) to shrink back, as in fear

  3. phonetics to modify the articulation of (a vowel) by bringing the tongue back away from the lips

Origin of retract

C16: from Latin retractāre to withdraw, from tractāre to pull, from trahere to drag

Derived forms of retract

  • retractable or retractible, adjective
  • retractability or retractibility, noun
  • retractation (ˌriːtrækˈteɪʃən), noun
  • retractive, adjective

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