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verb (used with object)
  1. to cut down, reduce, or diminish; curtail (expenses).
  2. to cut off or remove.
  3. Military. to protect by a retrenchment.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to economize; reduce expenses: They retrenched by eliminating half of the workers.
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Origin of retrench

1600–10; < French retrencher (obsolete variant of retrancher), Middle French retrenchier, equivalent to re- re- + trenchier to trench
Related formsre·trench·a·ble, adjectivere·trench·er, nounun·re·trench·a·ble, adjectiveun·re·trenched, adjective


See more synonyms for retrench on Thesaurus.com
1. decrease, abridge, cut.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for retrench


  1. to reduce or curtail (costs); economize
  2. (tr) to shorten, delete, or abridge
  3. (tr) to protect by a retrenchment
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Derived Formsretrenchable, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Old French retrenchier, from re- + trenchier to cut, from Latin truncāre to lop; see trench
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 retrench


1590s, "dig a new trench as a second line of defense," 1590s, probably a back-formation from retrenchment in the military sense. Related: Retrenched; retrenching.

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"cut off, cut down, pare away" (expenses, etc.), 1620s, from obsolete French retrencher "to cut off, lessen, shorten" (Modern French retrancher, Old French retrenchier), from re- "back" (see re-) + Old French trenchier "to cut" (see trench). Related: Retrenched; retrenching.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper