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Recorded in Middle English c. 1410 as retreve (altered to retrive in the 16th century; modern form is from c. 1650), from Middle French retruev-, stem of Old French retrover (to find again, modern retrouver), itself from re- (again) + trover (to find), probably from Vulgar Latin *tropāre (to compose).


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈtɹiːv/, /ɹəˈtɹiːv/, /ɹiˈtɹiːv/
    • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːv


retrieve (third-person singular simple present retrieves, present participle retrieving, simple past and past participle retrieved)

  1. (transitive) To regain or get back something.
    to retrieve one's character or independence; to retrieve a thrown ball
    • 1697, Virgil, “The Sixth Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC:
      With late repentance now they would retrieve / The bodies they forsook, and wish to live.
  2. (transitive) To rescue (a creature).
  3. (transitive) To salvage something
  4. (transitive) To remedy or rectify something.
  5. (transitive) To remember or recall something.
  6. (transitive) To fetch or carry back something, especially (computing) a file or data record.
    • 1714, Rev. Dean Berkeley, letter to Alexander Pope, May 1, 1714:
      to retrieve them from their cold, trivial conceits
  7. (transitive) To fetch and bring in game.
    The cook doesn't care what's shot, only what's actually retrieved.
  8. (intransitive) To fetch and bring in game systematically.
    Dog breeds called 'retrievers' were selected for retrieving.
  9. (intransitive) To fetch or carry back systematically, notably as a game.
    Most dogs love retrieving, regardless of what object is thrown.
  10. (sports, transitive) To make a difficult but successful return of the ball.
  11. (obsolete) To remedy the evil consequence of, to repair (a loss or damage).

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retrieve (plural retrieves)

  1. A retrieval
  2. (sports) The return of a difficult ball
  3. (obsolete) A seeking again; a discovery.
  4. (obsolete) The recovery of game once sprung.