[ ri-turn ]
See synonyms for: returnreturnedreturningreturns on

verb (used without object)
  1. to go or come back, as to a former place, position, or state: to return from abroad;to return to public office;to return to work.

  2. to revert to a former owner: The money I gave him returns to me in the event of his death.

  1. to revert or recur, as in thought, discourse, etc.: He returned to his story.

  2. to make a reply or retort: She returned with a witty sally.

verb (used with object)
  1. to put, bring, take, give, or send back to the original place, position, etc.: to return a book to a shelf;to return a child to her mother;to return the switch to off position.

  2. to send or give back in reciprocation, recompense, or requital: to return evil for good.

  1. to reciprocate, repay, or react to (something sent, given, done, etc.) with something similar: to return the enemy's fire;to return a favor.

  2. Law.

    • to give to a judge or official (a statement or a writ of actions done).

    • to render (a verdict, decision, etc.).

  3. to reflect (light, sound, etc.).

  4. to yield (a profit, revenue, etc.), as in return for labor, expenditure, or investment.

  5. to report or announce officially: to return a list of members.

  6. to elect, as to a legislative body: The voters returned him to office by a landslide.

  7. Military. to put (a weapon) back into its holder.

  8. Cards. to respond to (a suit led) by a similar lead: She returned diamonds.

  9. to turn back or in the reverse direction, as a served ball in tennis.

  10. Chiefly Architecture. to cause to turn or proceed in a different direction from the previous line of direction; reverse: to return a cornice at each end of a façade.

  1. the act or fact of returning as by going or coming back or bringing, sending, or giving back: the return of the Jews from the Diaspora;We should appreciate your return of the book immediately.

  2. a recurrence: the return of the moon each month.

  1. reciprocation, repayment, or requital: profits in return for outlay.

  2. response or reply.

  3. a person or thing that is returned: returns of mill goods.

  4. the gain realized on an exchange of goods.

  5. Often returns . a yield or profit, as from labor, land, business, or investment: He received a quick return on his money.

  6. Usually returns . an official or unofficial report on a count of votes, candidates elected, etc.: election returns.

  7. Chiefly British. return ticket (def. 2).

  8. Architecture.

    • the continuation of a molding, projection, etc., in a different direction.

    • a side or part that falls away from the front of any straight or flat member or area.

  9. a tablelike extension attached at a right angle to a desk at typing height, for holding a typewriter, computer, etc.

  10. a key or lever on a typewriter or other business machine that returns the carriage to the extreme right, or the typing element to the extreme left, for the beginning of a new line.

  11. Computers. See under carriage return (def. 2).

  12. Sports.

    • the act of returning a ball.

    • the ball that is returned.

  13. Football. a runback of a kick, intercepted pass, or fumble recovery.

  14. Economics. yield per unit as compared to the cost per unit involved in a specific industrial process.

  15. Law.

    • the bringing or sending back of various documents, such as a writ, summons, or subpoena, with a brief written report usually endorsed upon it, by a sheriff, to the court from which it issued.

    • a certified document by a great variety of officers, as assessors, collectors, and election officers.

    • the report or certificate endorsed in such documents.

  16. Cards. a lead that responds to a partner's lead.

  17. Theater. a flat or drapery parallel to the tormentor for masking the offstage area and often completing the downstage part of a set.

  18. returns,

    • merchandise shipped back to a supplier from a retailer or distributor as unsold or unsalable.

    • merchandise returned to a retailer by a consumer.

  1. of or relating to a return or returning: a return trip.

  2. sent, given, or done in return: a return shot.

  1. done or occurring again: a return engagement of the opera.

  2. noting a person or thing that is returned or returning to a place: return cargo.

  3. changing in direction; doubling or returning on itself: a return twist in a road.

  4. used for returning, recirculating, etc.: the return road;a return pipe.

  5. (of a game) played in order to provide the loser of an earlier game with the opportunity to win from the same opponent: return match.

  6. adequate, necessary, or provided to enable the return of a mailed package or letter to its sender: return postage guaranteed;return address;return envelope.

Origin of return

First recorded in 1275–1325; (verb) Middle English retornen, from Middle French retorner, returner, Old French (see re-, turn); (noun) Middle English, from Anglo-French retorn, return, derivative of Old French retorner, returner; (adjective) derivative of the noun

Other words for return

Other words from return

  • non·re·turn, adjective
  • pre·re·turn, noun, verb (used without object)
  • un·re·turned, adjective
  • un·re·turn·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use return in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for return


/ (rɪˈtɜːn) /

  1. (intr) to come back to a former place or state

  2. (tr) to give, take, or carry back; replace or restore

  1. (tr) to repay or recompense, esp with something of equivalent value: return the compliment

  2. (tr) to earn or yield (profit or interest) as an income from an investment or venture

  3. (intr) to come back or revert in thought or speech: I'll return to that later

  4. (intr) to recur or reappear: the symptoms have returned

  5. to answer or reply

  6. (tr) to vote into office; elect

  7. (tr) law (of a jury) to deliver or render (a verdict)

  8. (tr) to send back or reflect (light or sound): the canyon returned my shout

  9. (tr) to submit (a report, etc) about (someone or something) to someone in authority

  10. (tr) cards to lead back (the suit led by one's partner)

  11. (tr) ball games to hit, throw, or play (a ball) back

  12. (tr) architect to turn (a part, decorative moulding, etc) away from its original direction

  13. return thanks (of Christians) to say grace before a meal

  1. the act or an instance of coming back

  2. something that is given or sent back, esp unsatisfactory merchandise returned to the maker or supplier or a theatre ticket sent back by a purchaser for resale

  1. the act or an instance of putting, sending, or carrying back; replacement or restoration

  2. (often plural) the yield, revenue, or profit accruing from an investment, transaction, or venture

  3. the act or an instance of reciprocation or repayment (esp in the phrase in return for)

  4. a recurrence or reappearance

  5. an official report, esp of the financial condition of a company

    • a form (a tax return) on which a statement concerning one's taxable income is made

    • the statement itself

  6. (often plural) a statement of the votes counted at an election or poll

  7. an answer or reply

  8. British short for return ticket

  9. NZ informal a second helping of food served at a table

  10. architect

    • a part of a building that forms an angle with the façade

    • any part of an architectural feature that forms an angle with the main part

  11. law a report by a bailiff or other officer on the outcome of a formal document such as a claim, summons, etc, issued by a court

  12. cards a lead of a card in the suit that one's partner has previously led

  13. ball games the act of playing or throwing a ball back

  14. by return or by return of post British by the next post back to the sender

  15. many happy returns or many happy returns of the day a conventional greeting to someone on his or her birthday

  16. the point of no return the point at which a person's commitment is irrevocable

  1. of, relating to, or characterized by a return: a return visit; a return performance

  2. denoting a second, reciprocated occasion: a return match

Origin of return

C14: from Old French retorner; see re-, turn

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with return


In addition to the idioms beginning with return

  • return the compliment
  • return to the fold

also see:

  • in return
  • many happy returns
  • point of no return

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