General English


  • noun a ceremony to signify the close of the working day in barracks (usually around 1800hrs), when the flags are lowered
  • verb to move away from the enemy
  • verb to move back towards your own forces or territory

Origin & History of “retreat”

Retreat and retract (15th c.) are ultimately the same word. both go back to Latin retrahere ‘draw back’, a compound verb formed from the prefix re- ‘back’ and trahere ‘draw, pull’ (source of English tractor). this passed into Old French as retraire, and its past participle retrait came to be used as a noun meaning ‘withdrawal’ – whence English retreat. Meanwhile the past participle of retrahere, retractus, had been used as the basis of a new Latin verb, retractāre, which passed into English via Old French retracter as retract.