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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.


  • IPA(key): /ɹəˈkænt/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ænt


recant (third-person singular simple present recants, present participle recanting, simple past and past participle recanted)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To withdraw or repudiate a statement or opinion formerly expressed, especially formally and publicly.
    Synonyms: abjure, disavow, disown, recall, retract, revoke, take back, unsay, withcall; see also Thesaurus:recant
    Convince me that I am wrong, and I will recant.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 4”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      How soon [] ease would recant / Vows made in pain, as violent and void!
    • 2020 September 6, “Joe Biden’s China Journey”, in New York Times[1]:
      But as Mr. Trump denounces what he describes as failures by the Washington establishment on China, Mr. Biden, an avatar of that establishment, is not recanting his past enthusiasm for engagement.


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