Origin of return

1275–1325; (v.) Middle English retornen < Middle French retorner, returner, Old French (see re-, turn); (noun) Middle English < Anglo-French retorn, return, derivative of Old French retorner, returner; (adj.) derivative of the noun
Related formsnon·re·turn, adjectivepre·re·turn, noun, verb (used without object)un·re·turned, adjectiveun·re·turn·ing, adjective

Synonyms for return

4. rejoin. 5. replace. 6. exchange. 10. pay, repay. 23. revenue, income.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unreturned

Contemporary Examples of unreturned

Historical Examples of unreturned

  • The unreturned and unsuspected and I presume wicked love I felt for you.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • Do not think that I could nourish a love unsought and unreturned.


    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • And, nevertheless, you believe that your affection would not be unreturned?

    A Strange Story, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • He did not believe love so great as what he called his feeling for her could be unreturned.

  • But the devotion was unreturned, the constancy was not desired.

    The Man Who Was Good

    Leonard Merrick

British Dictionary definitions for unreturned



(intr) to come back to a former place or state
(tr) to give, take, or carry back; replace or restore
(tr) to repay or recompense, esp with something of equivalent valuereturn the compliment
(tr) to earn or yield (profit or interest) as an income from an investment or venture
(intr) to come back or revert in thought or speechI'll return to that later
(intr) to recur or reappearthe symptoms have returned
to answer or reply
(tr) to vote into office; elect
(tr) law (of a jury) to deliver or render (a verdict)
(tr) to send back or reflect (light or sound)the canyon returned my shout
(tr) to submit (a report, etc) about (someone or something) to someone in authority
(tr) cards to lead back (the suit led by one's partner)
(tr) ball games to hit, throw, or play (a ball) back
(tr) architect to turn (a part, decorative moulding, etc) away from its original direction
return thanks (of Christians) to say grace before a meal


the act or an instance of coming back
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
the act or an instance of putting, sending, or carrying back; replacement or restoration
(often plural) the yield, revenue, or profit accruing from an investment, transaction, or venture
the act or an instance of reciprocation or repayment (esp in the phrase in return for)
a recurrence or reappearance
an official report, esp of the financial condition of a company
  1. a form (a tax return) on which a statement concerning one's taxable income is made
  2. the statement itself
(often plural) a statement of the votes counted at an election or poll
an answer or reply
British short for return ticket
NZ informal a second helping of food served at a table
  1. a part of a building that forms an angle with the façade
  2. any part of an architectural feature that forms an angle with the main part
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
cards a lead of a card in the suit that one's partner has previously led
ball games the act of playing or throwing a ball back
by return or by return of post British by the next post back to the sender
many happy returns or many happy returns of the day a conventional greeting to someone on his or her birthday
the point of no return the point at which a person's commitment is irrevocable


of, relating to, or characterized by a returna return visit; a return performance
denoting a second, reciprocated occasiona return match

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for unreturned



early 14c., "to come back, come or go back to a former position" (intransitive), from Old French retorner "turn back, turn round, return" (Modern French retourner), from re- "back" (see re-) + torner "to turn" (see turn (v.)). Transitive sense of "report officially" is early 15c.; "to send back" is mid-15c.; that of "to turn back" is from c.1500. Meaning "to give in repayment" is 1590s; that of "give back, restore" c.1600. Related: Returned; returning.



late 14c., "act of coming back," also "official report of election results," from Anglo-French retorn, Old French retorne, verbal noun from retorner (see return (v.)). In ball games from 1833; specifically in tennis from 1886. Meaning "a yield, a profit" is recorded from 1620s. Meaning "a thing sent back" is from 1875. Many happy returns of the day was used by Addison (1716). Mailing return address attested from 1884.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with unreturned


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.