v. re·turned, re·turn·ing, re·turns
1. To go or come back, as to an earlier condition or place: She returned to her office after lunch.
2. To revert in speech, thought, or practice: I returned to my knitting after answering the phone.
3. To revert to a former owner.
4. To answer or respond: I said hello to him, and he returned in kind.
1. To send, put, or carry back: We return bottles to the store.
a. To give or send back in reciprocation: She returned his praise.
b. To give back to the owner: He returned her book.
c. To reflect or send back: The echo was returned by the canyon wall.
3. To produce or yield (profit or interest) as a payment for labor, investment, or expenditure.
a. To submit (an official report, for example) to a judge or other person in authority.
b. To render or deliver (a writ or verdict, for example) to the proper officer or court of law.
5. To elect or reelect, as to a legislative body.
6. Games To respond to (a partner's lead) by leading the same suit in cards.
7. Architecture To turn away from or place at an angle to the previous line of direction.
a. Sports To hit or send back (a tennis ball, for example) to one's opponent.
b. Football To run with (the ball) after a kickoff, punt, interception, or fumble.
a. The act or condition of going, coming, bringing, or sending back: After my return, we can discuss this matter further.
b. The act of bringing or sending something back to a previous place, condition, or owner: the late return of a library book.
a. Something brought or sent back.
b. returns Merchandise returned, as to a retailer by a consumer or to a wholesaler by a retailer.
c. Something that goes or comes back.
3. A recurrence, as of a periodic occasion or event: the return of spring.
4. Something exchanged for that received; repayment.
5. A reply; a response.
a. The profit made on an exchange of goods.
b. often returns A profit or yield, as from labor or investments.
c. Output or yield per unit rather than cost per unit, as in the manufacturing of a particular product.
a. A report, list, or set of statistics, especially one that is formal or official.
b. often returns A report on the vote in an election.
c. Chiefly British An election.
8. Games A lead in certain card games that responds to the lead of one's partner.
9. Sports In tennis and certain other sports:
a. The act of hitting or sending the ball back to one's opponent.
b. The ball thus sent back.
a. The act of running back the ball after a kickoff, punt, interception, or fumble.
b. The yardage so gained.
a. The extension of a molding, projection, or other part at an angle (usually 90°) to the main part.
b. A part of a building set at an angle to the façade.
a. A turn, bend, or similar reversal of direction, as in a stream or road.
b. A pipe or conduit for carrying something, especially water, back to its starting point.
a. The key or mechanism on a machine, such as a typewriter, that positions the carriage or printing element at the beginning of a new line.
b. A key on a computer keyboard or keypad used to begin a new line or paragraph in a text editor.
14. Chiefly British A roundtrip ticket.
a. The bringing or sending back of a writ, subpoena, or other document, generally with a short written report on it, by a sheriff or other officer to the court from which it was issued.
b. A certified report by an assessor, election officer, collector, or other official.
16. A formal tax statement on the required official form indicating taxable income, allowed deductions, exemptions, and the computed tax that is due. Also called income tax return, tax return.
1. Of, relating to, or bringing about a going or coming back to a place or situation: the return voyage; a return envelope.
2. Given, sent, or done in reciprocation or exchange: a return volley; a return invitation.
3. Performed, presented, or taking place again: a return engagement of the ballet; a return tennis match.
4. Returning or affording return or recirculation: a return plumbing pipe; a return valve.
a. Reversing or changing direction.
b. Having or formed by a reversal or change in direction; returning on itself, as a bend in a road or stream.
In repayment or reciprocation.
[Middle English retornen, from Old French retourner, from Vulgar Latin *retornāre : Latin re-, re- + Latin tornāre, to turn in a lathe; see TURN.]
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.