a. The act or process of moving back or away, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant: made a retreat from hectic city life to the country.
b. Withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack.
c. The process of receding from a position or of becoming smaller: glaciers in retreat from positions of advancement.
d. The process of changing or undergoing change in one's thinking or in a position: a leader's retreat from political radicalism.
e. A decline in value: a retreat in housing prices.
2. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security. See Synonyms at shelter.
a. A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
b. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study: a religious retreat.
a. The signal for a military withdrawal: Sound the retreat!
b. A bugle call or drumbeat signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset, as on a military base.
c. The military ceremony of lowering the flag.
v. re·treat·ed, re·treat·ing, re·treats
1. To move backward or away; withdraw or retire: retreated to his study. See Synonyms at recede1.
2. To make a military retreat.
3. To move back from a position of advancement or become smaller: land that emerged when the oceans retreated.
4. To change or undergo change in one's thinking or in a position: They retreated from their demands.
5. To decline in value: Stocks retreated in morning trading.
To move (a chess piece) back.
[Middle English retret, from Old French retrait, retret, from past participle of retraire, retrere, to draw back, from Latin retrahere; see RETRACT.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.