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

  • n. The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.
  • n. The process of going backward or receding from a position or condition gained.
  • n. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security. See Synonyms at shelter.
  • n. A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
  • n. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study: a religious retreat.
  • n. Withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack.
  • n. The signal for such withdrawal.
  • n. A bugle call or drumbeat signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset, as on a military base.
  • n. The military ceremony of lowering the flag.
  • intransitive v. To fall or draw back; withdraw or retire. See Synonyms at recede1.
  • intransitive v. To slope backward.
  • transitive v. Games To move (a chess piece) back.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of pulling back or withdrawing, as from something dangerous, or unpleasant.
  • n. The act of reversing direction and receding from a forward position.
  • n. A peaceful, quiet place affording privacy, or security.
  • n. A period of retirement, seclusion, or solitude.
  • n. A period of meditation, prayer or study
  • n. Withdrawal by military force from a dangerous position or from enemy attack.
  • n. A signal for a military withdrawal.
  • n. A bugle call or drumbeat signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset, as on a military base.
  • n. A military ceremony to lower the flag.
  • n. Move (a piece) from threatened position.
  • v. To withdraw military forces.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of retiring or withdrawing one's self, especially from what is dangerous or disagreeable.
  • n. The place to which anyone retires; a place or privacy or safety; a refuge; an asylum.
  • n.
  • n. The retiring of an army or body of men from the face of an enemy, or from any ground occupied to a greater distance from the enemy, or from an advanced position.
  • n. The withdrawing of a ship or fleet from an enemy for the purpose of avoiding an engagement or escaping after defeat.
  • n. A signal given in the army or navy, by the beat of a drum or the sounding of trumpet or bugle, at sunset (when the roll is called), or for retiring from action.
  • n.
  • n. A special season of solitude and silence to engage in religious exercises.
  • n. A period of several days of withdrawal from society to a religious house for exclusive occupation in the duties of devotion.
  • intransitive v. To make a retreat; to retire from any position or place; to withdraw.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of retiring or withdrawing; withdrawal; departure.
  • n. Specifically, the retirement, either forced or strategical, of an army before an enemy; an orderly withdrawal from action or position: distinguished from a flight, which lacks system or plan.
  • n. The withdrawing of a ship or fleet from action; also, the order or disposition of ships declining an engagement.
  • n. A signal given in the army or navy, by beat of drum or sound of trumpet, at sunset, or for retiring from exercise, parade, or action.
  • n. Retirement; privacy; a state of seclusion from society or public life.
  • n. Place of retirement or privacy; a refuge; an asylum; a place of security or peace.
  • n. A period of retirement for religious self-examination, meditation, and special prayer.
  • To retire; move backward; go back.
  • Specifically, to retire from military action or from an enemy; give way; fall back, as from a dangerous position.
  • In fencing, to move backward in order to avoid the point of the adversary's sword: specifically expressing a quick movement of the left foot a few inches to the rear, followed by the right foot, the whole being so executed that the fencer keeps his equilibrium and is ready to lunge and parry at will.
  • To recede: withdraw from an asserted claim or pretension, or from a course of action previously undertaken.
  • To withdraw to a retreat; go into retirement; retire for shelter, rest, or quiet.
  • To slope backward; have a receding outline or direction: as, a retreating forehead or chin.
  • To retract; retrace.
  • To reconsider; examine anew.
  • In chess, to move (a piece) backward.

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

  • v. make a retreat from an earlier commitment or activity
  • n. (military) a bugle call signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset
  • n. (military) withdrawal of troops to a more favorable position to escape the enemy's superior forces or after a defeat
  • v. move back
  • n. withdrawal for prayer and study and meditation
  • n. (military) a signal to begin a withdrawal from a dangerous position
  • n. a place of privacy; a place affording peace and quiet
  • v. move away, as for privacy
  • n. the act of withdrawing or going backward (especially to escape something hazardous or unpleasant)
  • v. pull back or move away or backward
  • n. an area where you can be alone


Middle English retret, from Old French retrait, retret, from past participle of retraire, retrere, to draw back, from Latin retrahere; see retract.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English retret, from Old French retrait or retret (to draw back), from Latin retrahere (retract). (Wiktionary)


  • He cites a Carleton University professor, Waller Newell, who regards that election as a vain retreat from the grimness of the Bush years: people expressing a naive wish, both at home and in Europe, for a peaceful future.

    Archive 2009-12-01

  • The word retreat conjured images of expensive hotels in exotic locales with golf courses, five-star restaurants, spas, and everyone sitting around the pool sipping mai tais and piña coladas while some team leader spewed psychobabble bullshit and asked everyone, “How do you feel about that?”

    Bodily Harm

  • The only thing better than a quaint mountain retreat is a quaint PREFAB mountain retreat.


  • Both said the term retreat mining goes back decades and that Murray's probably talking about different mining techniques.

    CNN Transcript Aug 8, 2007

  • Both said the term retreat mining goes back decades and that Murray is probably talking about different mining techniques.

    CNN Transcript Aug 12, 2007

  • Contemporary Western Buddhists often use the term retreat for any residential meditation course, even if for only a weekend, and for any period of time taken out of their busy daily lives and spent in secluded meditation on any topic.

    Dealing with Difficult Experiences that Arise in Meditation and in Retreat

  • While I know one of the themes of this retreat is the "complexities" of the issue, the "complexities" of the solutions, the "complexities" of the politics, and the "complexities" of our movement.

    Rev. Lennox Yearwood: Peace, Prosperity, and Purification: Ignored at our Peril

  • The man did not know the meaning of the word retreat.

    Extreme Measures

  • President Bush is expected to shift $1.3 billion away from raising and armoring levees, installing flood gates and building permanent pumping in Southeast Louisiana to plug long-anticipated funding shortfalls in other hurricane-protection projects, a move Sen. David Vitter describes as a retreat from the president's commitment to protect the whole New Orleans area.

    Archive 2007-02-01

  • QUESTION: Mr. Stickler, do you know if there has been in this mine what they call retreat mining, we've heard various reports.

    CNN Transcript Aug 7, 2007


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