retract

Have you ever said something you wish you could retract, or take back? You're not alone. Even newspapers and magazines have sections where the editors can retract something written that was incorrect.

The sense of the word retract meaning to draw back or withdraw comes from the mid-16th century, and its meaning was clear when Napoleon Bonaparte said, "In politics...never retreat, never retract...never admit a mistake." Still, sometimes you wish you could retract something you said or did. Cats can retract their claws, and some snakes can retract their fangs, but words spoken in anger can never be fully retracted, or taken back.

Primary Meanings of retract

1.
v
formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure
2.
v
pull inward or towards a center
3.
v
use a surgical instrument to hold open (the edges of a wound or an organ)
Full Definitions of retract
1

v formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure

“He retracted his earlier statements about his religion”
Synonyms:
abjure, forswear, recant, resile
Type of:
disown, renounce, repudiate
cast off
2

v pull inward or towards a center

“The cat retracted his claws”
Synonyms:
draw in
attract, draw, draw in, pull, pull in
direct toward itself or oneself by means of some psychological power or physical attributes
Types:
introvert, invaginate
fold inwards
intussuscept
introvert or invaginate
Type of:
attract, draw, draw in, pull, pull in
direct toward itself or oneself by means of some psychological power or physical attributes

v pull away from a source of disgust or fear

Synonyms:
shrink back
Type of:
cringe, flinch, funk, quail, recoil, shrink, squinch, wince
draw back, as with fear or pain
3

v use a surgical instrument to hold open (the edges of a wound or an organ)

Synonyms:
draw back, pull back
Type of:
pull
apply force so as to cause motion towards the source of the motion

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