Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Moving or tending backward.
  • adj. Opposite to the usual order; inverted or reversed.
  • adj. Reverting to an earlier or inferior condition.
  • adj. Astronomy Of or relating to the orbital revolution or axial rotation of a planetary or other celestial body that moves clockwise from east to west, in the direction opposite to most celestial bodies.
  • adj. Astronomy Of or relating to the brief, regularly occurring, apparently backward movement of a planetary body in its orbit as viewed against the fixed stars, caused by the differing orbital velocities of Earth and the body observed.
  • adj. Archaic Opposed; contrary.
  • intransitive v. To move or seem to move backward. See Synonyms at recede1.
  • intransitive v. To decline to an inferior state; degenerate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Directed backwards, retreating; reverting especially inferior state, declining; inverse, reverse; movement opposite to normal or intended motion, often circular motion.
  • adj. Counterproductive to a desired outcome.
  • adj. In the opposite direction to the orbited body's spin.
  • n. A degenerate person.
  • n. The reversal of a melody so that what is played first in the original melody is played last and what is played last in the original melody is played first.
  • v. To move backwards; to recede; to retire; to decline; to revert.
  • v. To show retrogradation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Apparently moving backward, and contrary to the succession of the signs, that is, from east to west, as a planet.
  • adj. Tending or moving backward; having a backward course; contrary; ; -- opposed to progressive.
  • adj. Declining from a better to a worse state
  • intransitive v. To go in a retrograde direction; to move, or appear to move, backward, as a planet.
  • intransitive v. Hence, to decline from a better to a worse condition, as in morals or intelligence.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To go backward; move backward.
  • To fall back or away; lose ground; decline; deteriorate; degenerate.
  • In astronomy, to move westward relatively to the fixed stars.
  • In biology, to undergo retrogression, as a plant or an animal; be retrograde or retrogressive; develop a less from a more complex organization; degenerate.
  • To cause to go backward; turn back.
  • Moving backward; having a backward motion or direction; retreating.
  • Specifically, in astronomy, moving backward and contrary to the order of the signs relatively to the fixed stars: opposed to direct. The epithet does not apply to the diurnal motion, since this is not relative to the fixed stars.
  • In biology, characterized by or exhibiting degeneration or deterioration, as an organism or any of its parts which passes or has passed from a higher or more complex to a lower or simpler structure or composition; noting such change of organization: as, retrograde metamorphosis or development; a retrograde theory.
  • In zoology, habitually walking or swimming backward, as many animals: correlated with laterigrade, gravigrade, saltigrade, etc.
  • In botany: Going backward in the order of specialization, from a more to a less highly developed form: referring either to reversions of type or to individual monsters.
  • Formerly used of hairs, in the sense of retrorse.
  • Losing ground; deteriorating; declining in strength or excellence.
  • Contrary; opposed; opposite.
  • Change of tissue or substance from the more complex to the simpler composition; catabolism. See metamorphosis.
  • n. In billiards, the pull-back, draw, or recoil.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. get worse or fall back to a previous condition
  • v. go back over
  • v. move in a direction contrary to the usual one
  • v. move back
  • adj. moving or directed or tending in a backward direction or contrary to a previous direction
  • adj. moving from east to west on the celestial sphere; or--for planets--around the sun in a direction opposite to that of the Earth
  • adj. of amnesia; affecting time immediately preceding trauma
  • adj. going from better to worse
  • v. move backward in an orbit, of celestial bodies

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin retrōgradus, from retrōgradī, to go back : retrō-, retro- + -gradus, walking (from gradī, to go; see ghredh- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English < Latin retrogradus. (Wiktionary)
From Latin retrōgradior or Late Latin retrogredere (retro- ("back") + gradi ("walk")). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term retrograde here is used in a purely theoretical sense, and cannot be held to imply any actual degradation.

    Vegetable Teratology An Account of the Principal Deviations from the Usual Construction of Plants

  • When the Conservatives first came to office in 2006, then information commissioner John Reid sounded the alarm bells at what he called retrograde steps towards secrecy -- and was promptly run out of town.

    Winnipeg Sun

  • (Like I would know what that meant, but my brother always says something about Mercury in retrograde or something when I feel over-sad.)

    Viva Le Picnic « Skid Roche

  • Sagittarius: Pluto retrograde is still making up down and down up.

    Horoscope for the week of July 28, 2008

  • This is called retrograde motion; the direction in which the Earth turns is called prograde.

    George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt

  • Everyone is constantly telling you how hard it is, how you're never going to get a second book published unless about 367 things go just exactly the right way on the third Thursday of the seventh month when Venus is in retrograde and a brindle armadillo crosses

    December 2006

  • Saturday, 18 March, 2006 at 21: 25 mercury is in retrograde till the 25th. .anything mechanical or to do with communications does and will break down during this time …. just be patient …. eg.

    Bad Blogger @ Attack of the Redneck Mommy

  • I wonder what happens if you buy a Mercury while Mercury is in retrograde ...

    My Own 527

  • You miss appointments, your computer equipment crashes, checks get lost, you find the car you just purchased during Mercury retrograde is a lemon.

    My Own 527

  • Mercury's bought when Mercury is in retrograde find themselves stuck in reverse.

    My Own 527

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Comments

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  • 1. Moving or tending backward. 2. Opposite to the usual order; inverted or reversed. 3. Reverting to an earlier or inferior condition. 4. Astronomy a. Of or relating to the orbital revolution or axial rotation of a planetary or other celestial body that moves clockwise from east to west, in the direction opposite to most celestial bodies. b. Of or relating to the brief, regularly occurring, apparently backward movement of a planetary body in its orbit as viewed against the fixed stars, caused by the differing orbital velocities of Earth and the body observed. 5. Archaic Opposed; contrary.

    May 25, 2007

  • ....he ejaculated.

    February 11, 2007