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See more synonyms for retrospective on Thesaurus.com
  1. directed to the past; contemplative of past situations, events, etc.
  2. looking or directed backward.
  3. retroactive, as a statute.
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  1. an art exhibit showing an entire phase or representative examples of an artist's lifework.
  2. any exhibition or series of showings or performances, as of musical works or motion pictures, representing the work of an artist or performer over all or a major part of a career: a retrospective of John Ford's movies.
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Origin of retrospective

First recorded in 1655–65; retrospect + -ive
Related formsret·ro·spec·tive·ly, adverbret·ro·spec·tive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for retrospective


  1. looking or directed backwards, esp in time; characterized by retrospection
  2. applying to the past; retroactive
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  1. an exhibition of an artist's life's work or a representative selection of it
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Derived Formsretrospectively, adverbretrospectiveness, noun
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 retrospective


1660s, from retrospect + -ive. As a noun, from 1964, short for retrospective exhibition (1908), etc. Related: Retrospectively.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper