from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To take back; disavow: refused to retract the statement.
  • transitive v. To draw back or in: a plane retracting its landing gear. See Synonyms at recede1.
  • transitive v. Linguistics To utter (a sound) with the tongue drawn back.
  • transitive v. Linguistics To draw back (the tongue).
  • intransitive v. To take something back or disavow it.
  • intransitive v. To draw back.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To pull back inside (for example, an airplane retracting its wheels while flying).
  • v. To take back or withdraw something one has said.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The pricking of a horse's foot in nailing on a shoe.
  • intransitive v. To draw back; to draw up.
  • intransitive v. To take back what has been said; to withdraw a concession or a declaration.
  • transitive v. To draw back; to draw up or shorten
  • transitive v. To withdraw; to recall; to disavow; to recant; to take back.
  • transitive v. To take back,, as a grant or favor previously bestowed; to revoke.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To draw back; draw in: sometimes opposed to protract or protrude: as, a cat retracts her claws.
  • To withdraw; remove.
  • To take back; undo; recall; recant: as, to retract an assertion or an accusation.
  • To contract; lessen in length; shorten.
  • To draw or shrink back; draw in; recede.
  • To undo or unsay what has been done or said before; recall or take back a declaration or a concession; recant.
  • n. A falling back; a retreat.
  • n. A retractation; recantation.
  • n. In farriery, the prick of a horse's foot in nailing a shoe, requiring the nail to be withdrawn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. pull inward or towards a center
  • v. formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure
  • v. pull away from a source of disgust or fear
  • v. use a surgical instrument to hold open (the edges of a wound or an organ)


Latin retractāre, to revoke, frequentative of retrahere, to draw back : re-, re- + trahere, to draw. V., tr., senses 2 and 3, and v., intr., sense 2, Middle English retracten, from Old French retracter, from Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin retractum, past participle of retrahere. (Wiktionary)



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