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Etymology 1[edit]

PIE word

From Middle English withdrawen, withdrauen (to depart, leave, move away; (reflexive) to go away; (reflexive) to leave someone’s service; (often reflexive) to draw back or retreat (from a battlefield or dangerous place), withdraw; to abandon, desert; to go, go forth; to move; of the sea, water, etc.: to (cause to) ebb, recede, subside; to disappear; to slacken, wane; (often reflexive) to cease, stop; to desist, refrain; (reflexive) to go back on, recant; to avoid, eschew; to bring under control, contain, suppress; to curb, curtail; to delay, put off; to demur, refuse; to carry or take away, deprive of, remove; to contract, draw away or in, retract; to deny, refuse; to revoke; to withhold; to divert; to separate; to adopt, borrow, imitate) [and other forms],[1] from with- (prefix meaning ‘away; back’)[2] + drawen, drauen (to drag, pull, tow, tug, draw [and other senses])[3] (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dʰregʰ- (to drag, pull; to run)); see further at with- and draw. The English word is analysable as with- +‎ draw.[4]


withdraw (third-person singular simple present withdraws, present participle withdrawing, simple past withdrew, past participle withdrawn)

  1. (transitive)
    1. To draw or pull (something) away or back from its original position or situation.
      • 1653, David Dickson, “Psal[m] LXXIV. Maschil of Asaph.”, in A Brief Explication of the Other Fifty Psalmes, from Ps. 50. to Ps. 100, London: [] T[homas] R[atcliffe] & E[dward] M[ottershed] for Ralph Smith, [], →OCLC, page 169:
        VVhy vvithdravveſt thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy boſome.
        A quotation from Psalm 74:11 of the Bible.
      • 1671, John Milton, “Samson Agonistes, [].”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: [] J. M[acock] for John Starkey [], →OCLC, page 19, lines 190–194:
        Hovv counterfeit a coin they are vvho friends / Bear in their Superſcription (of the moſt / I vvould be underſtood) in proſperous days / They ſvvarm, but in adverſe vvithdravv their head / Not to be found, though ſought.
      • 1846 October 1 – 1848 April 1, Charles Dickens, “After a Lapse”, in Dombey and Son, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, →OCLC, page 587:
        ["]She was as proud as t' other in her way," said the old woman, touching the face of her daughter fearfully, and withdrawing her hand, "for all she's so quiet now; but she'll shame 'em with her good looks, yet. Ha, ha! She'll shame 'em, will my handsome daughter!"
      • 1865, Jean Ingelow, “A Dead Year”, in Poems, author’s edition, Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, →OCLC, page 106:
        Envy not! for thou wilt wear / In the dark a shroud as fair; / Golden with the sunny ray / Thou withdrawest from my day; []
      1. To remove (someone or (reflexive, archaic) oneself) from a position or situation; specifically (military), to remove (soldiers) from a battle or position where they are stationed.
        • 1593, Tho[mas] Nashe, Christs Teares Over Ierusalem. [], London: [] Iames Roberts, and are to be solde by Andrewe Wise, [], →OCLC, folio 24, recto:
          Thou neuer vvithdrevvſt thy ſelfe and vvert ſolitarie, but my Spyrite vvas reproouing and diſputing vvith thee.
        • 1595 December 9 (first known performance), [William Shakespeare], The Tragedie of King Richard the Second. [] (First Quarto), London: [] Valentine Simmes for Androw Wise, [], published 1597, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii]:
          VVithdravve your ſelues, and leaue vs here alone.
        • 1610, William Camden, “Brechnock-shire”, in Philémon Holland, transl., Britain, or A Chorographicall Description of the Most Flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland, [], London: [] [Eliot’s Court Press for] Georgii Bishop & Ioannis Norton, →OCLC, page 627:
          [A]s the Saxons vvere novv ſpoiling and harrying the vvhole Iland, and Vortigern had vvithdravven himſelfe into theſe parts, Paſcentius his ſonne ruled all as Lord, by the permiſſion of Aurelius Ambroſe, as Ninnius vvriteth, []
        • 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: [], London: [] Nath[aniel] Ponder [], →OCLC; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, [], 1928, →OCLC, page 118:
          [H]e is gone as I ſaid, let him go; the loſs is no mans but his ovvn, he has ſaved us the trouble of going from him; for he continuing, as I ſuppoſe he vvill do, as he is, he vvould have been but a blot in our Company: beſides, the Apoſtle ſays, From ſuch vvithdravv thy ſelf.
        • 1718 April 17 (Gregorian calendar), Francis Atterbury, “Some Reasons Assigned, for Our Saviour’s Appearing Chiefly to His Apostles, after His Resurrection; and His Manner of Conversing with Them, Represented: In a Sermon Preached at Westminster-Abbey, on Easter-Day, 1718”, in Thomas Moore, editor, Sermons on Several Occasions. [], volume I, London: [] George James []; and sold by C. Davis, [], published 1734, →OCLC, page 177:
          They [the apostles] vvere by Degrees to be VVeaned from their Fondneſs for his [Jesus's] Perſon, and their Deſire of his Bodily Preſence; and to this end it vvas requiſite, that he ſhould not vvithdravv himſelf from their Sight, at once, but appear, and diſappear to them, at fit Intervals; diſcontinuing, and reſuming his Converſation vvith them, in ſuch a manner, as might beſt diſpoſe them to be vvilling entirely to part vvith him.
        • 1821, Percy B[ysshe] Shelley, Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, [], Pisa, Italy: [] Didot; reprinted London: Noel Douglas [], 1927, →OCLC, stanza XLII, page 21:
          He is a presence to be felt and known / In darkness and in light, from herb and stone, / Spreading itself where'er that Power may move / Which has withdrawn his being to its own; []
        • 1823, [Walter Scott], “The Boar-hunt”, in Quentin Durward. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., →OCLC, page 237:
          It had so happened that a sounder (i.e. in the language of the period, a boar of only two years old,) had crossed the track of the proper object of the chase, and withdrawn in pursuit of him all the dogs, (saving two or three couple of old staunch hounds,) and the greater part of the huntsmen.
        • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, “Returns to the Genteel World”, in Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC, page 540:
          Walter Scape was withdrawn from Eton, and put into a merchant's house.
      2. (archaic) To draw or pull (a bolt, curtain, veil, or other object) aside.
        • 1841 February–November, Charles Dickens, “Barnaby Rudge”, in Master Humphrey’s Clock, volume II, London: Chapman & Hall, [], →OCLC, chapter 9, page 284:
          [S]he was in no mood for sleep; so, putting her light upon the table and withdrawing the little window curtain, she gazed out pensively at the wild night sky.
        • 1843 December 19, Charles Dickens, “Stave Four. The Last of the Spirits.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, [], →OCLC, page 137:
          Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand was pointed to the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part, would have disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to do it; but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre at his side.
        • 1877 September 14, Robert Browning, “La Saisiaz”, in La Saisiaz: The Two Poets of Croisic, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], published 1878, →OCLC, page 18:
          Here's the veil withdrawn from landscape: up to Jura and beyond, / All awaits us ranged and ready; yet she violates the bond, / Neither leans nor looks nor listens: why is this?
    2. To take away or take back (something previously given or permitted); to remove, to retract.
      • 1535 October 14 (Gregorian calendar), Myles Coverdale, transl., Biblia: The Byble, [] (Coverdale Bible), [Cologne or Marburg: Eucharius Cervicornus and J. Soter?], →OCLC, I. Cronicles xviij, folio lxxxvi, verso, column 1:
        I wyl be his father, and he ſhal be my ſonne. And I wyl not withdrawe my mercy from him, as I haue withdrawen it frõ him that was before the[e]: []
        1 Chronicles 17:13 in modern versions of the Bible.
      • 1580, Michael Cope [i.e., Michel Cop], “The Eleuenth Chapter”, in M[arcelline] O[utred], transl., A Godly and Learned Exposition uppon the Prouerbes of Solomon: [], London: [] Thomas Dawson, [], for George Bishop, →OCLC, folio 191, verso:
        Hee that vvithdravveth the corne, the people vvill curſe him: but bleſſing ſhall bee on the head of him that ſelleth corne.
        A quotation from Proverbs 11:26 in the Bible.
      • 1597, Richard Hooker, “Of the Personall Presence of Christ Euery Where, and in What Sense It may be Graunted He is Euery Where Present According to the Flesh”, in J[ohn] S[penser], editor, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], 2nd edition, London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, book V, page 300:
        Impoſſible it is that God ſhould vvithdravve his preſence from any thing, becauſe the very ſubſtance of God is infinite.
      • 1815 September 10 – December 14, Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude”, in Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude: And Other Poems, London: [] Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, []; and Carpenter and Son, [] [b]y S. Hamilton, [], published 1816, →OCLC, page 2:
        [F]orgive / This boast, beloved brethren, and withdraw / No portion of your wonted favour now!
      • 1833–1834 (date written), Alfred Tennyson, “The Two Voices”, in Poems. [], volume II, London: Edward Moxon, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 126:
        To pass, when Life her light withdraws, / Not void of righteous self-applause, / Nor in a merely selfish cause— []
      • 2019 October, Rhodri Clark, “TfW seeks PRM derogation for Class 37 sets”, in Modern Railways, Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allen Publishing, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 87:
        The plan is to withdraw the Pacers from service by the end of the year.
    3. To cause or help (someone) to stop taking an addictive drug or substance; to dry out. [from 20th c.]
    4. To take (one's eyes) off something; to look away.
    5. (figuratively)
      1. To disregard (something) as belonging to a certain group.
        • 1839, Henry Hallam, “History of Poetry from 1550 to 1600”, in Introduction to the Literature of Europe, in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, volume II, London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, section V (On Latin Poetry), paragraph 97, page 341:
          One [poem] by Hercules Rollock on the marriage of Anne of Denmark is better, and equal, a few names withdrawn, to any of the contemporaneous poetry of France.
      2. To remove (a topic) from discussion or inquiry.
      3. To stop (a course of action, proceedings, etc.)
      4. To take back (a comment, something written, etc.); to recant, to retract.
        Synonyms: unsay; see also Thesaurus:recant
        to withdraw false charges
        • 1836 March – 1837 October, Charles Dickens, “The Pickwickians”, in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1837, →OCLC, page 4:
          Mr. Blotton would only say then, that he repelled the hon. gen's false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt. (Great cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. [] The Chairman was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would withdraw the expression he had just made use of. / Mr. Blotton, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite sure he would not.
    6. (archaic or obsolete) To distract or divert (someone) from a course of action, a goal, etc.
      • c. 1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid. [] (First Quarto), London: [] G[eorge] Eld for R[ichard] Bonian and H[enry] Walley, [], published 1609, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iv]:
        I doe not flie, but aduantagious care, / VVith-drevv me from the ods of multitude, []
      • 1651, Thomas Hobbes, “Of the Vertues Commonly Called Intellectual; and Their Contrary Defects”, in Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill, London: [] [William Wilson] for Andrew Crooke, [], →OCLC, 1st part (Of Man), page 33:
        [] Puſillanimity; by vvhich that ſeems great to him, vvhich other men think a trifle: and vvhatſoever is nevv, or great, and therefore thought fit to be told, vvithdravves a man by degrees from the intended vvay of his diſcourſe.
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book VII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC, lines 608–613:
        VVho can impair thee, mighty King, or bound / Thy Empire? eaſily the proud attempt / Of Spirits apoſtat and thir Counſels vaine / Thou haſt repeld, vvhile impiouſly they thought / Thee to diminiſh, and from thee vvithdravv / The number of thy vvorſhippers.
    7. (banking, finance) To extract (money) from a bank account or other financial deposit.
      Antonym: deposit
      • 1776 March 9, Adam Smith, “Of the Accumulation of Capital, or of Productive and Unproductive Labour”, in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. [], volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Strahan; and T[homas] Cadell, [], →OCLC, book II (Of the Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock), page 403:
        VVhatever part of his ſtock a man employs as a capital, he alvvays expects is to be replaced to him vvith a profit. [] VVhenever he employs any part of it in maintaining unproductive hands of any kind, that part is, from that moment, vvithdravvn from his capital, and placed in his ſtock reſerved for immediate conſumption.
  2. (intransitive)
    1. Chiefly followed by from: to leave a place, someone's presence, etc., to go to another room or place.
      1. (specifically, military) Of soldiers: to leave a battle or position where they are stationed; to retreat.
    2. Chiefly followed by from: to stop taking part in some activity; also, to remove oneself from the company of others, from publicity, etc.
    3. To stop talking to or interacting with other people and start thinking thoughts not related to what is happening.
    4. To stop taking an addictive drug or substance; to undergo withdrawal. [from 20th c.]
      • 1992, Edward St Aubyn, chapter 5, in Bad News, London: Picador, published 2012, →ISBN, page 88:
        Simon had tried to rob a bank while he was withdrawing, but he had been forced to surrender to the police after they had fired several volleys at him.
    5. Of a man: to remove the penis from a partner's body orifice before ejaculation; to engage in coitus interruptus.
      • 2002, Debbie Macomber, “1968 [chapter name]”, in Between Friends, Don Mills, Ont.: Mira Books, →ISBN, page 119:
        Like a fool, I agreed to let him make love to me as long as he withdrew before he ejaculated and he promised he would, but then he didn't.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English withdrawe (act of stopping a judicial proceeding), from withdrawen, withdrauen (verb):[5] see etymology 1.[6]


withdraw (plural withdraws) (obsolete)

  1. An act of drawing back or removing; a removal, a withdrawal or withdrawing.
  2. (law) Synonym of withdraught (a dismissal of a lawsuit with prejudice based on a plaintiff's withdrawal of the suit; a retraxit; also, a fine imposed on a plaintiff for such a dismissal)


  1. ^ withdrauen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ with-, pref.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ drauen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ withdraw, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2022; withdraw, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  5. ^ withdrawe, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  6. ^ withdraw, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.

Further reading[edit]