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

  • transitive v. To make a formal retraction or disavowal of (a statement or belief to which one has previously committed oneself).
  • intransitive v. To make a formal retraction or disavowal of a previously held statement or belief.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To withdraw from or repudiate a statement or opinion formerly expressed, especially formally and publicly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To revoke a declaration or proposition; to unsay what has been said; to retract.
  • transitive v. To withdraw or repudiate formally and publicly (opinions formerly expressed); to contradict, as a former declaration; to take back openly; to retract; to recall.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To sing over again; utter repeatedly in song.
  • To unsay; contradict or withdraw formally (something which one had previously asserted); renounce; disavow; retract: as, to recant one's opinion or profession of faith.
  • Synonyms Abjure, Forswear, etc. See renounce.
  • To revoke a declaration or proposition; unsay what has been said; renounce or disavow an opinion or a dogma formerly maintained; especially, to announce formally one's abandonment of a religious belief.

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

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


Latin recantāre : re-, re- + cantāre, to sing, frequentative of canere; see kan- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in 1535, from Latin recantare, present active infinitive of recanto ("to sing back, reecho, sing again, repeat in singing, recant, recall, revoke, charm back or away"), from re- ("back") + canto ("to chant, to sing"), frequentative of cano. (Wiktionary)



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  • I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.
    (Martin Luther)

    March 18, 2008