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a. The act or process of moving back or away, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant: made a retreat from hectic city life to the country.
b. Withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack.
c. The process of receding from a position or of becoming smaller: glaciers in retreat from positions of advancement.
d. The process of changing or undergoing change in one's thinking or in a position: a leader's retreat from political radicalism.
e. A decline in value: a retreat in housing prices.
2. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security. See Synonyms at shelter.
a. A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
b. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study: a religious retreat.
a. The signal for a military withdrawal: Sound the retreat!
b. A bugle call or drumbeat signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset, as on a military base.
c. The military ceremony of lowering the flag.
v. re·treat·ed, re·treat·ing, re·treats
1. To move backward or away; withdraw or retire: retreated to his study. See Synonyms at recede1.
2. To make a military retreat.
3. To move back from a position of advancement or become smaller: land that emerged when the oceans retreated.
4. To change or undergo change in one's thinking or in a position: They retreated from their demands.
5. To decline in value: Stocks retreated in morning trading. Games
To move (a chess piece) back.

[Middle English retret, from Old French retrait, retret, from past participle of retraire, retrere, to draw back, from Latin retrahere; see retract.]

re·treat′er n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. moving away
2. receding
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
Pursued by the French army of a hundred thousand men under the command of Bonaparte, encountering a population that was unfriendly to it, losing confidence in its allies, suffering from shortness of supplies, and compelled to act under conditions of war unlike anything that had been foreseen, the Russian army of thirty-five thousand men commanded by Kutuzov was hurriedly retreating along the Danube, stopping where overtaken by the enemy and fighting rearguard actions only as far as necessary to enable it to retreat without losing its heavy equipment.
He was jeered at for his alacrity in retreating; his report was treated as a false alarm; his brother trappers contented themselves with reconnoitring the fort at a distance, and pronounced that it was deserted.
The eyes in front were not retreating so rapidly now; I was almost within sword reach of them.