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.

Definitions of retract
  1. verb
    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure
    “He retracted his earlier statements about his religion”
    synonyms: abjure, forswear, recant, resile
  2. verb
    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
    see moresee less
    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
  3. verb
    pull away from a source of disgust or fear
    synonyms: shrink back
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    type of:
    cringe, flinch, funk, quail, recoil, shrink, squinch, wince
    draw back, as with fear or pain
  4. verb
    use a surgical instrument to hold open (the edges of a wound or an organ)
    synonyms: draw back, pull back
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    type of:
    pull
    apply force so as to cause motion towards the source of the motion
Word Family