verb (used without object)

Nearby words

  1. retrainee,
  2. retral,
  3. retrally,
  4. retransmission,
  5. retread,
  6. retreat from reality,
  7. retreatant,
  8. retreatism,
  9. retrench,
  10. retrenchment


    beat a retreat, to withdraw or retreat, especially hurriedly or in disgrace.

Origin of retreat

1300–50; (noun) Middle English retret < Old French, variant of retrait, noun use of past participle of retraire to draw back < Latin retrahere (re- re- + trahere to draw; see retract1); (v.) late Middle English retreten < Middle French retraitier < Latin retractāre to retract2

Related formsre·treat·al, adjectivere·treat·er, nounre·treat·ive, adjective

Can be confusedre-treat retreat

Synonym study

8. See depart.



verb (used with or without object)

to treat again.

Origin of re-treat

First recorded in 1880–85; re- + treat

Can be confusedre-treat retreat Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for retreat

British Dictionary definitions for retreat


verb (mainly intr)

military to withdraw or retire in the face of or from action with an enemy, either due to defeat or in order to adopt a more favourable position
to retire or withdraw, as to seclusion or shelter
(of a person's features) to slope back; recede
(tr) chess to move (a piece) back


the act of retreating or withdrawing
  1. a withdrawal or retirement in the face of the enemy
  2. a bugle call signifying withdrawal or retirement, esp (formerly) to within a defended fortification
retirement or seclusion
a place, such as a sanatorium or monastery, to which one may retire for refuge, quiet, etc
a period of seclusion, esp for religious contemplation
an institution, esp a private one, for the care and treatment of people who are mentally ill, infirm, elderly, etc

Word Origin for retreat

C14: from Old French retret, from retraire to withdraw, from Latin retrahere to pull back; see retract

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 retreat
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with retreat


see beat a retreat.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.