Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English retret, borrowed from Old French retrait or retret, from Latin retractus, from retraho.


  • (file)


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, chapter IV, in Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented [...] In Three Volumes, volume I, London: James R[ipley] Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., [], OCLC 13623666, phase the first (The Maiden), pages 40–41:
      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 vinous bliss; 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.

Related terms[edit]



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

  1. (of military forces) To withdraw from a position, go back.
  2. (of a glacier) To shrink back due to generally warmer temperatures.


See also[edit]