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


Wikipedia has articles on:


From Middle English returnen, retornen, from Anglo-Norman returner, from Old French retourner, retorner, from Medieval Latin retornare (to turn back), from re- + tornare (to turn). Compare beturn.



return (third-person singular simple present returns, present participle returning, simple past and past participle returned)

  1. (intransitive) To come or go back (to a place or person).
    Although the birds fly north for the summer, they return here in winter.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. The three returned wondering and charmed with Mrs. Cooke; they were sure she had had no hand in the furnishing of that atrocious house.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 19, in The China Governess[1]:
      As soon as Julia returned with a constable, Timothy, who was on the point of exhaustion, prepared to give over to him gratefully. The newcomer turned out to be a powerful youngster, fully trained and eager to help, and he stripped off his tunic at once.
  2. (intransitive) To go back in thought, narration, or argument.
    To return to my story []
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) To turn back, retreat.
    • 1485 July 31, Thomas Malory, “(please specify the chapter)”, in [Le Morte Darthur], (please specify the book number), [London: William Caxton], OCLC 71490786; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur, London: Published by David Nutt, in the Strand, 1889, OCLC 890162034:
      , Bk.V:
      ‘I suppose here is none woll be glad to returne – and as for me,’ seyde Sir Cador, ‘I had lever dye this day that onys to turne my bak.’
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To turn (something) round.
  5. (transitive) To place or put back something where it had been.
    Please return your hands to your lap.
  6. (transitive) To give something back to its original holder or owner.
    You should return the library book within one month.
  7. (transitive) To take back something to a vendor for a refund.
    If the goods don't work, you can return them.
  8. To give in requital or recompense; to requite.
    • Bible, 1 Kings ii.44
      The Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head.
  9. (tennis) To bat the ball back over the net in response to a serve.
    The player couldn't return the serve because it was so fast.
  10. (card games) To play a card as a result of another player's lead.
    If one players plays a trump, the others must return a trump.
  11. (cricket) To throw a ball back to the wicket-keeper (or a fielder at that position) from somewhere in the field.
  12. (transitive) To say in reply; to respond.
    to return an answer;  to return thanks
    • 1897, Henry James, What Maisie Knew
      ‘Ah my good friend, I do look out!’ the young man returned while Maisie helped herself afresh to bread and butter.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
      “No!” returned the spy. “I throw up. I confess that we were so unpopular with the outrageous mob, that I only got away from England at the risk of being ducked to death []
  13. (intransitive, computing) To relinquish control to the calling procedure.
  14. (transitive, computing) To pass (data) back to the calling procedure.
    This function returns the number of files in the directory.
  15. (transitive, dated) To retort; to throw back.
    to return the lie
    • Dryden
      If you are a malicious reader, you return upon me, that I affect to be thought more impartial than I am.
  16. (transitive) To report, or bring back and make known.
    to return the result of an election
    • Bible, Exodus xix.8
      And all the people answered together, [] and Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.
  17. (by extension, Britain) To elect according to the official report of the election officers.

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


return (plural returns)

  1. The act of returning.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, in The Celebrity:
      I had occasion […] to make a somewhat long business trip to Chicago, and on my return […] I found Farrar awaiting me in the railway station. He smiled his wonted fraction by way of greeting, […], and finally leading me to his buggy, turned and drove out of town. I was completely mystified at such an unusual proceeding.
    I expect the house to be spotless upon my return.
  2. A return ticket.
    Do you want a one-way or a return?
  3. An item that is returned, e.g. due to a defect, or the act of returning it.
    Last year there were 250 returns of this product, an improvement on the 500 returns the year before.
  4. An answer.
    a return to one's question
  5. An account, or formal report, of an action performed, of a duty discharged, of facts or statistics, etc.; especially, in the plural, a set of tabulated statistics prepared for general information.
    election returns; a return of the amount of goods produced or sold
  6. Gain or loss from an investment.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      The fruit from many days of recreation is very little; but from these few hours we spend in prayer, the return is great.
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
      Liverpool have now won only five of their 17 home league games this season. It is a poor return for a team of Liverpool's pedigree and resources but, once again, Kenny Dalglish's team were the instigators of their own downfall as chance after chance went begging.
    • 2013 July 6, “The rise of smart beta”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8843, page 68:
      Investors face a quandary. Cash offers a return of virtually zero in many developed countries; government-bond yields may have risen in recent weeks but they are still unattractive. Equities have suffered two big bear markets since 2000 and are wobbling again. It is hardly surprising that pension funds, insurers and endowments are searching for new sources of return.
    It yielded a return of 5%.
  7. (taxation, finance): A report of income submitted to a government for purposes of specifying exact tax payment amounts. A tax return.
    Hand in your return by the end of the tax year.
  8. (computing) A carriage return character.
  9. (computing) The act of relinquishing control to the calling procedure.
  10. (computing) A return value: the data passed back from a called procedure.
  11. A short perpendicular extension of a desk, usually slightly lower.
  12. (American football) Catching a ball after a punt and running it back towards the opposing team.
  13. (cricket) A throw from a fielder to the wicket-keeper or to another fielder at the wicket.
  14. (architecture) The continuation in a different direction, most often at a right angle, of a building, face of a building, or any member, such as a moulding; applied to the shorter in contradistinction to the longer.
    A facade of sixty feet east and west has a return of twenty feet north and south.


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.