[ re-truh-spek-tiv ]
/ ˌrɛ trəˈspɛk tɪv /


directed to the past; contemplative of past situations, events, etc.
looking or directed backward.
retroactive, as a statute.


an art exhibit showing an entire phase or representative examples of an artist's lifework.
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.

Nearby words

  1. retroserrate,
  2. retroserrulate,
  3. retrosexual,
  4. retrospect,
  5. retrospection,
  6. retrospective falsification,
  7. retrospectively,
  8. retrospondylolisthesis,
  9. retroussage,
  10. retrousse

Origin of retrospective

First recorded in 1655–65; retrospect + -ive

Related formsret·ro·spec·tive·ly, adverbret·ro·spec·tive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for retrospective

British Dictionary definitions for retrospective


/ (ˌrɛtrəʊˈspɛktɪv) /


looking or directed backwards, esp in time; characterized by retrospection
applying to the past; retroactive


an exhibition of an artist's life's work or a representative selection of it
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper