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From Middle English retret, from Old French retrait or retret (to draw back), from Latin retrahere (retract).



retreat ‎(plural retreats)

  1. The act of pulling back or withdrawing, as from something dangerous, or unpleasant.
    • Shakespeare
      In a retreat he outruns any lackey.
  2. The act of reversing direction and receding from a forward position.
  3. A peaceful, quiet place affording privacy or security.
    • 1891, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles , chapter IV
      In a large bedroom upstairs, the window of which was thickly curtained with a great woollen shawl lately discarded by the landlady, Mrs Rolliver, were gathered on this evening nearly a dozen persons, all seeking beatitude; all old inhabitants of the nearer end of Marlott, and frequenters of this retreat.
    • 1692, Roger L'Estrange, "Fable 100: An Old Man and a Lion", Fables of Aesop, page 115
      ... he built his son a house of pleasure, on purpose to keep him out of harm's way; and spared neither art nor cost to make it a delicious retreat.
    • Dryden
      That pleasing shade they sought, a soft retreat / From sudden April showers, a shelter from the heat.
  4. (rare and obsolete, euphemistic) An peaceful, quiet place in which to urinate and defecate: an outhouse; a lavatory.
  5. A period of retirement, seclusion, or solitude.
  6. A period of meditation, prayer or study.
  7. Withdrawal by military force from a dangerous position or from enemy attack.
  8. A signal for a military withdrawal.
  9. A bugle call or drumbeat signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset, as on a military base.
  10. A military ceremony to lower the flag.
  11. (chess) The move of a piece from a threatened position.


See also[edit]


retreat ‎(third-person singular simple present retreats, present participle retreating, simple past and past participle retreated)

  1. To withdraw military forces.