Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To take back; disavow.
  • intransitive verb To draw back or in.
  • intransitive verb To utter (a sound) with the tongue drawn back.
  • intransitive verb To draw back (the tongue).
  • intransitive verb To take something back or disavow it.
  • intransitive verb To draw back: synonym: recede.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To draw back; draw in: sometimes opposed to protract or protrude: as, a cat retracts her claws.
  • To withdraw; remove.
  • To take back; undo; recall; recant: as, to retract an assertion or an accusation.
  • To contract; lessen in length; shorten.
  • To draw or shrink back; draw in; recede.
  • To undo or unsay what has been done or said before; recall or take back a declaration or a concession; recant.
  • noun A falling back; a retreat.
  • noun A retractation; recantation.
  • noun In farriery, the prick of a horse's foot in nailing a shoe, requiring the nail to be withdrawn.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Far.) The pricking of a horse's foot in nailing on a shoe.
  • intransitive verb To draw back; to draw up.
  • intransitive verb To take back what has been said; to withdraw a concession or a declaration.
  • transitive verb To draw back; to draw up or shorten
  • transitive verb To withdraw; to recall; to disavow; to recant; to take back.
  • transitive verb obsolete To take back,, as a grant or favor previously bestowed; to revoke.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To pull back inside (for example, an airplane retracting its wheels while flying).
  • verb transitive To take back or withdraw something one has said.

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

  • verb pull inward or towards a center
  • verb formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure
  • verb pull away from a source of disgust or fear
  • verb use a surgical instrument to hold open (the edges of a wound or an organ)

Etymologies

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

[Latin retractāre, to revoke, frequentative of retrahere, to draw back : re-, re- + trahere, to draw. V., tr., senses 2 and 3, and v., intr., sense 2, Middle English retracten, from Old French retracter, from Latin retractus, past participle of retrahere.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin retractum, past participle of retrahere.

Examples

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  • The market for tract housing is retracting. See Free Associations.

    February 5, 2008

  • . To keep you cool, your scalp will retract any hair growing out of it. (Your retracted mane also serves as a sponge that soaks up unhappy memories.)

    July 11, 2011