See more synonyms for re-treat on

Origin of re-treat

First recorded in 1880–85; re- + treat
Can be confusedre-treat retreat


  1. the forced or strategic withdrawal of an army or an armed force before an enemy, or the withdrawing of a naval force from action.
  2. the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.
  3. a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy: The library was his retreat.
  4. an asylum, as for the insane.
  5. a retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation.
  6. Military.
    1. a flag-lowering ceremony held at sunset on a military post.
    2. the bugle call or drumbeat played at this ceremony.
  7. the recession of a surface, as a wall or panel, from another surface beside it.
verb (used without object)
  1. to withdraw, retire, or draw back, especially for shelter or seclusion.
  2. to make a retreat: The army retreated.
  3. to slope backward; recede: a retreating chin.
  4. to draw or lead back.
  1. 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

Synonyms for retreat

See more synonyms for on
2. departure, withdrawal. 3. shelter. 8. leave, pull back.

Synonym study

8. See depart.

Antonyms for retreat

1, 8, 9. advance. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for retreating

Contemporary Examples of retreating

Historical Examples of retreating

British Dictionary definitions for retreating


verb (mainly intr)
  1. 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
  2. to retire or withdraw, as to seclusion or shelter
  3. (of a person's features) to slope back; recede
  4. (tr) chess to move (a piece) back
  1. the act of retreating or withdrawing
  2. military
    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
  3. retirement or seclusion
  4. a place, such as a sanatorium or monastery, to which one may retire for refuge, quiet, etc
  5. a period of seclusion, esp for religious contemplation
  6. 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 retreating



c.1300, "a step backward;" late 14c., "act of retiring or withdrawing; military signal for retiring from action or exercise," from Old French retret, noun use of past participle of retrere "draw back," from Latin retrahere "draw back, withdraw, call back," from re- "back" (see re-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)). Meaning "place of seclusion" is from early 15c.; sense of "establishment for mentally ill persons" is from 1797. Meaning "period of retirement for religious self-examination" is from 1756.



early 15c., "to draw in, draw back, leave the extremities," from retreat (n.) and in part from Old French retret, past participle of retrere. Meaning "to fall back from battle" is mid-15c. Related: Retreated; retreating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with retreating


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.