Definitions

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

  • adjective Moving or tending backward.
  • adjective Opposite to the usual order; inverted or reversed.
  • adjective Reverting to an earlier or inferior condition.
  • adjective 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.
  • adjective 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.
  • adjective Of or relating to orbital motion in the direction opposite that of the predominant motion in an orbital system.
  • intransitive verb Astronomy To have retrograde motion.
  • intransitive verb To decline to an inferior state; degenerate.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To move or seem to move backward.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun In billiards, the pull-back, draw, or recoil.
  • 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.

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

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

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

  • noun A degenerate person.
  • noun music 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.
  • verb intransitive To move backwards; to recede; to retire; to decline; to revert.
  • verb intransitive, astronomy To show retrogradation.
  • adjective Directed backwards, retreating; reverting especially inferior state, declining; inverse, reverse; movement opposite to normal or intended motion, often circular motion.
  • adjective Counterproductive to a desired outcome.
  • adjective astronomy In the opposite direction to the orbited body's spin.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Latin retrōgradus, from retrōgradī, to go back : retrō-, retro- + -gradus, walking (from gradī, to go; see ghredh- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin retrōgradior or Late Latin retrogredere (retro- ("back") + gradi ("walk")).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English < Latin retrogradus.

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

  • 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

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

    Horoscope for the week of July 28, 2008

  • (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

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

    George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt

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

    George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt

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

    George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt

  • 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

Comments

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  • ....he ejaculated.

    February 11, 2007

  • 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