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From French retranchement, Old French retrenchemant.


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈtɹentʃ.mənt/


retrenchment (countable and uncountable, plural retrenchments)

  1. A reduction or curtailment; often referring to a business or government agency cutting back operations or laying off workers.
    • 2018, The Observer, The Observer view on the budget and the decade of austerity, 28 October :
      Delays with universal credit have compounded the problem, pushing people into rent arrears and putting them at risk of losing their homes. And the retrenchment of services such as mental health and drug rehabilitation means that vulnerable people are more likely to find themselves on the street.
  2. (military, dated) A defensive work constructed within a fortification to make it more defensible (by allowing defenders to retreat into and fight from it even after the enemy has taken the outer work).
    • 1712, H[enry] Curzon, “Of Fortification”, in The Universal Library: Or, Compleat Summary of Science. Containing above Sixty Select Treatises. In Two Volumes. [...], volume II, London: Printed for George Sawbridge, at the Three Flower-de-Lys in Little Britain, OCLC 642343210, page 243:
      The Half-Moon is a Work always raiſed before the Baſtion's Point, being ſo named from the Lowneſs of its Gorges Cavity, &c. and is to ſecure the Two Faces of the Baſtion; but when the Faces have but a weak Defence from the Ravelin, theſe Works are ſoon made uſeleſs or ruined, and give the Beſieged an opportunity of Lodgment, and may ſerve for Batteries and Flanks againſt the oppoſing Baſtions; however they may be retrenched by Traverſes, yet they will not fail to attack entirely in the Face, or where you have your laſt Retrenchment, alſo that called the Counterguard runs the like Hazard.
    • 1747, John Muller [i.e., John Müller], “Part II. Of the Defence.”, in The Attack and Defence of Fortify’d Places. In Three Parts. [...], London: Printed for J. Millan, near Charing-Cross, OCLC 990827509, page 186:
      [I]f there is one Retrenchment in a Work, it is generally thought ſufficient; but it happens much oftener than there is none at all; ſo that one might be apt to think, a Defence like that we have been explaining is only chimerical, if the Sieges of Vienna and Candy, both by the Turks, were not inſtances of the contrary, where there was hardly an inch of Ground either within or without thoſe two Towns, as far as the Extremities of the Glacis, and even beyond them, but what was retrenched and countermined.