Meaning of retreat in English:


Pronunciation /rɪˈtriːt/

See synonyms for retreat

Translate retreat into Spanish


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  • 1(of an army) withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat.

    ‘the French retreated in disarray’
    • ‘I just received word that the enemy forces are retreating.’
    • ‘The First Shock Army was retreating along a narrow corridor between two series of hills.’
    • ‘When daylight arrived, scouting parties would work their way up over the hill in order to determine exactly how far the Army had retreated.’
    • ‘The French army retreated towards the River Marne and it was here that both German and French armies fought out the first major battle on the Western Front.’
    • ‘The Union troops plodded back to Washington, and Lee's army retreated to Richmond.’
    • ‘All ships must retreat, as the enemy force is too large for us to tackle in our current status.’
    • ‘Massena attempted to lay siege to Torres Vedras, but after four months his army, starved and demoralized, was forced to retreat.’
    • ‘With Prussian support uncut, the Russian army in Warsaw marched into Silesia forcing Italy to retreat.’
    • ‘Now, however, in the wake of this second wave of attack, they were retreating, having realized defeat.’
    • ‘Throughout the early hours of the battle, the warriors repeated this action in an attempt to collapse Carter's line and force him to retreat across the river.’
    • ‘This ill-fated attempt resulted in the death of several men under Pryor's command and forced the survivors to retreat downriver.’
    • ‘General Robert E. Lee narrowly escaped defeat this battle and the lack of men caused him and his army to retreat back in to Virginia.’
    • ‘With winter coming on, Napoleon finds his invasion stalled and he is forced to retreat from Russia.’
    • ‘General Das receives word that Civantor has been forced to retreat from Canterbury.’
    • ‘The ensuing battle was short and decisive; although both Wolfe and Montcalm were fatally wounded, the French retreated and Quebec fell.’
    • ‘Each charge was fast and quick, with the Indians retreating almost as soon as the gunfire erupted from the rocks.’
    • ‘In the summer of 1915 the Russian army retreated on its southwest front.’
    • ‘In the winter of 1778, Washington's ragged army had retreated here to regroup.’
    • ‘Knights of both kingdoms clashed for what seemed like half a day, and in the end, the remaining Sunfall knights fell back and retreated.’
    • ‘I gave the order to retreat after half of the squadron was destroyed.’
    withdraw, retire, draw back, pull back, pull out, fall back, give way, give ground, recoil, flee, take flight, beat a retreat, beat a hasty retreat, run away, run off, make a run for it, run for it, make off, take off, take to one's heels, make a break for it, bolt, make a quick exit, clear out, make one's getaway, escape, head for the hills
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    1. 1.1Move back or withdraw.
      ‘it becomes so hot that the lizards retreat into the shade’
      • ‘the ice retreated during warmer periods called interglacials’
      • ‘The crowd of people gasped and retreated a few steps from me, like I was a wild animal whom they thought to be dead, only to come back to life.’
      • ‘There's no pausing, save for retreating to a safer area.’
      • ‘If the water line rises far, it means a tidal wave will come and people must retreat to high ground, he said.’
      • ‘The animals had already retreated into their jungle homes, and the water had subsided.’
      • ‘Orville bobbed his brown head of hair and retreated to the safety of the kitchen.’
      • ‘Risaku retreated to the ground where his friends safely resided.’
      • ‘When Anna, as usual, shooed me out of the kitchen, I defeated, retreated back to the lounge.’
      • ‘At least that would give us time to retreat to safer grounds.’
      • ‘It seemed, at the sound of rapidly retreating footsteps, that he did not want to see me.’
      • ‘She let her tense shoulders fall and retreated back to the opposite wall, keeping her eyes on Zarius the whole time.’
      • ‘As I approached, Gregory and Mikhail retreated, moving farther into the sheltered area.’
      • ‘We retreated into the darkness of the passage, moving quickly back to the storage closet before crossing the hall to my room.’
      • ‘The footsteps resumed again, retreating into the dark once more.’
      • ‘Cate remained standing there, watching the doors swing and listening to the soft sound of Alexander's retreating footsteps.’
      • ‘Many from the crowd immediately fled; others retreated to what was felt a safe distance.’
      • ‘She heard footsteps moving away from her and could only guess Rhea had retreated to the bedroom.’
      • ‘The girl squeaked, dropped the phone, and I heard her footsteps retreating away from the phone.’
      • ‘Slumping back in his seat, the head of Sleet house let out a quiet sigh as he watched his false friends retreat from the table.’
      • ‘Grumbling, the old woman retreated back upstairs, mumbling continually about the problems with today's youth.’
      • ‘He backed away from the fire, retreating to the rear of the cave, and huddled against the rock, trying to block out the voices calling his name.’
      go out, ebb, recede, flow out, fall, go down
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    2. 1.2Withdraw to a quiet or secluded place.
      ‘after the funeral he retreated to Scotland’
      • ‘I left the table, and retreated to a quiet spot on the stairs beside Smokey, hoping not to be found for the rest of the day.’
      • ‘So they retreated to a quiet agrarian existence as a form of protest, painting mountains and rivers because these are what endure.’
      • ‘Hazel wrote all her work by hand and on Sundays would retreat to the quiet of the nearly empty computer laboratory at Massey University to type up her thesis.’
      • ‘Mrs. Robinson had let him retreat to someplace quiet to finish student evaluations.’
      • ‘Undaunted, uncluttered, untouched, this is the charm of Tobago for the celebrated citizens of the world who retreat to its shores.’
      • ‘As if by instinct, he retreats to the woodshed, a quiet and private place where he sometimes goes just to sit and think.’
      • ‘More practically, it gives them a place to retreat to, escaping the stress of life in the public eye.’
      • ‘For Hewitt, nature becomes a refuge, a place to which he can retreat and escape from the rigours of life.’
      • ‘Edwards lives in and has a studio in Toronto but also has a place to retreat to and draw inspiration from in the rural farm country of Canada just north of Toronto.’
      • ‘After the funeral, though, he had retreated more into himself, and closed up even more - if that was even possible.’
      • ‘He skipped dinner and retreated to his room to practice all night.’
      • ‘As he got older, he retreated from the public eye, spent his days in quiet solitary devotion and scholarly study.’
      • ‘As he grows older Frenhofer retreats into seclusion, devoting his last years to a single work that no one has seen and that he cannot bring himself to complete.’
      • ‘Some miles down was a great waterfall that fell into a beautiful stone haven Angharad liked to retreat to.’
      • ‘With the jury still out, we retreat to the back corner of the court.’
      • ‘My father had retreated to his study for most of this period, though, which I found to be quite against his character.’
      • ‘When things become too stressful he retreats into his mind where he does mathematical puzzles for hours on end to calm himself down.’
      • ‘Livia retreated from the outside world more and more, even shutting out the company of Sarah Buckner.’
      • ‘As his reputation declined, the sculptor retreated to his studio and stopped exhibiting.’
      • ‘Shivering he slowed his breathing and closed his mind, retreating within himself in one of the meditation rituals.’
    3. 1.3Change one's mind or plans as a result of criticism or difficulty.
      ‘his proposals were clearly unreasonable and he was forced to retreat’
      • ‘Deng, as a result, had to argue his case, to move one step at a time, and sometimes to retreat from positions which opposition had made untenable.’
      • ‘I think our case here would have to be that we can't get out of it, that one way or another you're in this argument, it's a very, very difficult one to retreat from.’
      • ‘I am in earnest - I will not equivocate - I will not excuse - I will not retreat a single inch - and I will be heard.’
      • ‘As soon as you attack one thing he retreats and agrees with you, and as soon as you agree with him he disagrees again.’
      • ‘The government should not retreat in the face of striking workers using force.’
      • ‘Obviously the council have now retreated in the face of their united voice.’
      • ‘It is a role we should embrace with real confidence, resisting nostalgia, refusing to retreat into isolationism.’
      change one's decision, change one's mind, change one's attitude, change one's plans
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    4. 1.4(of shares) decline in value.
      ‘the company reported healthy figures but the shares retreated’
      • ‘London shares retreated in a week that saw oil prices surge to a new record high of more than $54 a barrel.’
      • ‘London shares retreated this week as the Chancellor unveiled his latest Budget.’
    5. 1.5Chess with object Move (a piece) back from a forward or threatened position on the board.
      ‘Also, his pieces are retreated, rather than immediately removed from the board.’
      • ‘Black's next move intends to retreat the queen to h6 if necessary, seeking to relieve some pressure through a queen trade.’
      • ‘However it all made perfect sense for the computer, as it thought that Kramnik's best was to retreat his knight, then it would repeat its move too, settling for a draw.’
      • ‘Black could safely retreat the knight, but the king move brings the game to a crisis.’
      • ‘Bareev retreated his king and knight and amazingly got the draw in 73 moves after he looked dead lost.’


  • 1An act of moving back or withdrawing.

    ‘a speedy retreat’
    • ‘the army was in retreat’
    • ‘They seemed to have made a cowardly retreat and were most likely shivering in fear from the sound of her giant robot's earth-shaking footsteps.’
    • ‘Barely seconds into the conflict, and already the defenders are in retreat.’
    • ‘These can weaken the enemy, forestall his attack, and potentially force his retreat.’
    • ‘On the evening of 4th July, under cover of sheeting rain, he set his men in retreat towards Virginia.’
    • ‘The later Middle Ages was a period when royal feudal rights are usually considered to have been in retreat in England.’
    • ‘The battle raged for nine hours, but at midnight Napoleon ordered a retreat.’
    • ‘Hector and his stalwart Trojan army force the Greeks into a retreat.’
    • ‘As the Union retreat continued, a mammoth bottleneck developed at Frayser's Farm, halting the withdrawal.’
    • ‘The fusillade to protect his retreat began and as he went, keeping low, he dragged with him the spool of wire to be connected to the detonator.’
    • ‘It is true that the national assembly, and in particular its government ministries, continued to be dominated by wealthy notables, but the landed magnates were in retreat.’
    • ‘The Jacobites managed an orderly retreat and William's forces were in no condition to pursue.’
    • ‘He pictured himself now, crawling in the mud of a ditch, filthy and wretched, scampering in retreat.’
    • ‘The military archives yielded much more information on the retreat of Napoleon's Grand Army across Germany in 1813.’
    • ‘Michaela almost took a step back in retreat but she checked herself and lifted her chin.’
    • ‘First looking at Maria, then back at Erik, the man's weapon hand began to shake apprehensively as he started to take several steps in retreat.’
    • ‘We do not yet know whether different stages of a battle, such as the initial salvos, a fighting retreat and a rout, have different archaeological signatures.’
    • ‘There may seem little hope in fighting, but there is still less in retreat.’
    • ‘Natalya quickly followed after her brother in retreat, deciding to flee and live to fight yet another day.’
    • ‘Last night the cavalry covered the retreat of the last troops from Manassas, though there was hardly any opposition, if any at all.’
    • ‘However, surrounding tribes rose up and forced a desperate retreat through mountainous country.’
    withdrawal, pulling back, flight
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An act of changing one's mind or plans as a result of criticism or difficulty.
      ‘the trade unions made a retreat from their earlier position’
      • ‘Perhaps Shakespeare felt that a judicious tactical retreat following rehearsal criticism was in order, but that does not brand the line a mistake.’
      • ‘The minister of war, Kuropatkin, was appointed to command the Far Eastern land forces and, no doubt familiar with War and Peace, adopted a strategy of retreat.’
      • ‘At Derby, his military council forced a retreat.’
      • ‘Their 2003 adventure ended in frustration when inclement weather forced a hasty retreat.’
      • ‘Strong campaigns across India maybe starting to force this corporation into a retreat, but it will not be the last such absurdity.’
      • ‘After years of tub thumping, backroom arm twisting, and tactical releases and untactical retreats, Sun Microsystems investment in putting Java into interactive TV finally looks like paying off.’
      • ‘Once the wizard is destroyed, you can opt for a tactical retreat, often a good idea considering in this mode, the wizard is unable to cast spells or summon any more creatures.’
      • ‘Feeling snubbed, she decided to beat a strategic retreat.’
      • ‘Mounting a strategic retreat, Sam re-entered the house and obediently followed Honey's mother back to the party.’
      • ‘Marin shifted a bit on his feet, before deciding that a strategic retreat was definitely called for.’
      • ‘Lenin, however, was astute enough to realize that a strategic retreat was required.’
      • ‘But Donahue tells us that the switch from grains to hay, from tillage to meadow did not signal a retreat.’
      climbdown, backdown, retraction, concession, about-face, U-turn, rowback
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  • 2A signal for a military force to withdraw.

    ‘the bugle sounded a retreat’
    • ‘Sounding the retreat in late September 1903, Harrison signaled the surrender of the professional politicians.’
    • ‘And soon the birds were flying everywhere signaling the retreat.’
    • ‘Even now, as she rested and waited for the signal to begin the retreat, the color on Guo's mantle did not even fade slightly.’
    • ‘Sometimes, I wanted to sound a general retreat.’
    • ‘For the moment, none of these players is sounding a retreat.’
    • ‘He opened his mouth and breathed deeply, gathering oxygen into his lungs with which to sound the retreat.’
    • ‘The victors pursued the fleeing enemy, killing and capturing as many as they could, until trumpets sounded the retreat.’
    • ‘There he held on for a time but with the Indians gaining ground he sounded a retreat and we recrossed the river.’
    • ‘Once one enemy squad is thoroughly decimated, the computer will automatically sound a retreat.’
    • ‘In minutes, the once organised starguard lines had fallen into disarray, and the retreat was sounded.’
    • ‘Ronin surmised that no one had escaped the fight unscathed, and he began wondering if he should've called a retreat in the first place.’
    • ‘Civantor, know the future value of his horse regiments, orders the retreat.’
    • ‘A call for retreat issued from somewhere in Elvish, followed by a horn, a single ringing note that bellowed over the clash of weapons and roars of beasts.’
    1. 2.1mass noun A military musical ceremony carried out at sunset, originating in the playing of drums and bugles to tell soldiers to return to camp for the night.
      ‘In earlier days, fighting would cease at sunset and, following the beating retreat and the band troop, a hymn would be played in honour of those of the regiment who had fallen during the day.’
      • ‘This beating of retreat was later extended to include the whole corps of drums with fifes, pipes or bugles.’
  • 3A quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.

    ‘their country retreat in Ireland’
    • ‘The elegant Mahogany Room piano bar offers a quiet retreat overlooking the adjacent brick courtyard.’
    • ‘He wanted a quiet retreat to build his house upon and concentrate on his work.’
    • ‘The central court is conceived as the largest room in the house, providing a common area and a sheltered retreat in summer.’
    • ‘The original Auroran settlers had landed in the location that was now the park and decided to keep it as a peaceful retreat in the centre of the city.’
    • ‘He needed a place to escape to, a retreat, a haven.’
    • ‘Another building, the so-called ‘Maritime Villa’, has been interpreted as a place of quiet retreat for the Emperor.’
    • ‘The rich colours and ever-changing light of the surrounds make this an ideal setting for a rural retreat, and outdoor activity centre.’
    • ‘Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa is a luxury retreat which offers rejuvenation in a wilderness setting.’
    • ‘Cool and relaxing, the forest was a refreshing retreat from the muggy, crowded streets and alleyways of the now often crowded town.’
    • ‘He spends most weekends at a hideaway retreat near Powerscourt Waterfall that he bought about two years ago from Dublin businessman Harry Crosbie.’
    • ‘Within commuting distance of Dublin, the property could also be used as a country retreat or maintained as a family run bed-and-breakfast.’
    • ‘He had offered her her choice of splendid apartments downtown, but he had also suggested the country, as a retreat.’
    • ‘The client wanted a weekend retreat, with space for guests, which would respond to the beauty of the setting.’
    • ‘The gentle breezes, lulling waves, and general island calm create a perfect setting for a regenerative retreat.’
    • ‘The first two weeks of the Academy were spent in splendid isolation, with the group based in a country retreat in Wiltshire.’
    • ‘The cabin was right across from a lake, the perfect writer's retreat.’
    • ‘Les Chenes was an ideal location for an artist's retreat.’
    • ‘Powerscourt Paddocks should generate interest among families seeking a rural retreat within commuting distance of Dublin.’
    • ‘Fuchsia, blackthorn, limestone and seashore combine to make this a truly idyllic location, perfect as a weekend retreat or holiday home.’
    • ‘He has transformed his house from drab and ordinary into an artist's retreat.’
    refuge, haven, resort, asylum, sanctuary, sanctum sanctorum
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    1. 3.1A period or place of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation.
      ‘the bishop is away on his annual retreat’
      • ‘before his ordination he went into retreat’
      • ‘One can thus expand the definition of ‘adventure’ to include Zen meditation retreats, cello lessons, or medical school.’
      • ‘During this time he also made pilgrimages to Sri Lanka, India, China, and Nepal to visit Buddhist sites and for meditation retreats.’
      • ‘Bishop Robinson will be in Ireland in October to address the annual retreat of the diocese of Limerick and Killaloe in the Dingle Skelligs hotel.’
      • ‘Since it was difficult to adhere to the advice imparted by visions, men and women went on annual fasts or retreats to renew the vision and reflect on their lives.’
      • ‘In Indian legend, every rishi, or yogi, who possesses divine power has a retreat in the mountain vastness of the Himalayas.’
      • ‘I had a little altar in my room, sat for an hour a day and regularly attended one-day retreats.’
      • ‘Silent meditation retreats, I've discovered, are helpful for some people and not for others.’
      • ‘The number of Catholics who attend the annual retreat has swelled.’
      • ‘Teaming up with celebrity stylist Louise O'Connor, Rita promises her clients the escapism of a modern day Zen retreat.’
      • ‘His recovery programme goes on to embrace detox, rehab and Buddhist meditation retreats.’
      • ‘We had just spent a pleasant day on Belle Mare beach, splashing in crystal clear water across the street from a local ashram, the Asian version of a spiritual retreat.’
      • ‘The most fervent Jansenists opted for a life of severe self-denial and constant prayer, in retreat from the world.’
      • ‘Living in retreats in secluded areas they have silently and unceasingly guided the evolution of humanity through the work of their disciples.’
      seclusion, withdrawal, retirement, solitude, isolation, hiding, privacy, sanctuary
      View synonyms
  • 4A decline in the value of shares.

    ‘a gloomy stock market forecast sent share prices into a rapid retreat’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, the repeated rumours have led to surges and retreats in the share price, and while some speculators have made big profits, the company's thousands of small shareholders have been the real victims.’
    • ‘Market rates were moving higher, stocks were in retreat and then near-debacle struck in auto credit default swaps.’


Late Middle English from Old French retret (noun), retraiter (verb), from Latin retrahere ‘pull back’ (see retract).