Definition of return in English:

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Pronunciation: /rəˈtərn/


1 [no object] Come or go back to a place or person: he returned to Canada in the fall
More example sentences
  • When he returned to the living area, his three crewmates had already returned.
  • The band returned to Seattle because Geffen asked them to, so of course I happily returned with them.
  • Every Saturday she returned to the same bench with his lunch, waiting for him to return.
go back, come back, come home
1.1 (return to) Go back to (a particular state or activity): Ollie had returned to full health
More example sentences
  • After Alexis' illness passed our lives returned to normal and continued in the same way.
  • So Aileen returns to her old trade, which spirals into violence and tragedy.
  • He returns to flying and a glorious career as a fighter pilot.
1.2 (return to) Turn one’s attention back to (something): he returned to his newspaper
More example sentences
  • It unnerved me momentarily, but when I became aware of her attention returning to her work I cast my gaze back towards her.
  • I turned to face him again, my attention returning to him in an instant at the challenge.
  • His attention quickly returned to the mission as the communications officer called to him.
1.3(Especially of a feeling) come back or recur after a period of absence: her appetite had returned
More example sentences
  • The familiar feelings of longing returned, and his heart ached for her.
  • I was almost happy as the familiar hot feeling of anger returned in me like a long lost companion.
  • The feeling returned, of perseverance to love him forevermore.
recur, reoccur, occur again, repeat (itself);
reappear, appear again
2 [with object] Give, put, or send (something) back to a place or person: complete the application form and return it to this address
More example sentences
  • Like every date on the tour, when we caught consecutive shows in Memphis and Atlanta, they were sold out, despite some fans having returned their tickets in protest.
  • He returns the computer to the store, and exchanges it for another one.
  • Patrice returns the tissue to Mary - their tears now blended into the same cloth.
give back, hand back;
pay back, repay
restore, put back, replace, reinstall
2.1Feel, say, or do (the same feeling, action, etc.) in response: she returned his kiss
More example sentences
  • You know how is it like to love someone and not have your feelings returned but you still love that person no matter what.
  • McDonald's didn't return repeated phone calls for this article.
  • He brushed a kiss over Piper's lips which wasn't returned, but he didn't notice.
reciprocate, requite, give in return, respond to, repay, give back
answer, reply, respond, counter, rejoin, retort, come back
2.2(In tennis and other sports) hit or send (the ball) back to an opponent.
Example sentences
  • Batters have three separate ways to return the ball into play.
  • If you missed returning the ball, you were disqualified.
  • The left analogue stick moves your player from left to right and beyond the table - heated rallies often saw us returning the ball from half way across the room.
hit back, throw back
2.3 American Football Run upfield with the ball after fielding (a kick), intercepting (a pass), or recovering (a fumble).
Example sentences
  • He returned kicks and caught passes and ran the ball - he did everything in that game.
  • He was intercepted by former teammate Ty Law, who returned the pass for a touchdown to even the score 7 - 7 in the first quarter.
2.4(Of a judge or jury) state or present (a verdict) in response to a formal request.
Example sentences
  • The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and Dunphy was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment.
  • A US judge has dismissed a spamming conviction after concluding that there was no ‘rational basis’ for the jury to return a guilty verdict.
  • The jury returned a so-called ‘special verdict’ of guilty but insane.
deliver, bring in, hand down
2.5 Bridge Lead (a card of a suit led earlier by one’s partner).
Example sentences
  • In fact if you are first or second and your partner is fifth, you might well choose to return a good card to help your partner.
  • One way of cooperating with declarer is by returning the suits which she leads.
2.6 Architecture Continue (a wall) in a changed direction, especially at right angles.
3 [with object] Yield or make (a profit): the company returned a profit of 4.3 million dollars
More example sentences
  • Delaney said the FAI would break even this year and return a profit in 2005.
  • In other words, 80 cents in Pepsi profit is returned for every $1 spent on Pepsi advertising.
  • Analysts say they never expected the company, which is faring much better than most dotcoms, to return a profit until 2003.
yield, earn, realize, net, gross, clear
4 [with object] (Of an electorate) elect (a person or party) to office: the Democrat was returned in the third district
More example sentences
  • At the first election for a Legislative Assembly in 1856 he was returned for the electorate of Murrumbidgee.
  • In 1943 the Dublin Labour Party nominated Larkin as a Dáil candidate and he was returned in the election of that year.
  • Clark opened his purse again for the fall elections, determined to elect a legislative majority that would return him to the Senate.
elect, vote in, choose, select


1An act of coming or going back to a place or activity: he celebrated his safe return from the war [as modifier]: a return flight
More example sentences
  • All I ask is that you pray for me and my safe return.
  • I apologize for being late - a cancelled flight on my return from Chicago in mid-week disrupted my schedule a bit.
  • That night, over a hundred people showed up to pray for the safe return of the captives.
1.1 [in singular] An act of going back to an earlier state or condition: the designer advocated a return to elegance
More example sentences
  • Steve Chapman writes today about terrorism, fear, and the return to normalcy.
  • In particular, the Duke's absence and consequent abuse of power by one of his deputies serves to justify the return of full centralized authority in the last Act.
  • Coming at a time when students here are demonstrating for the return of government grant funding the play leaps into sharp contemporary focus.
recurrence, reoccurrence, repeat, repetition, reappearance, revival, resurrection, reemergence, resurgence, renaissance
1.2The action of giving, sending, or putting something back: we demand the return of our books and papers
More example sentences
  • Lost lovers and lost children rarely figure in his accounts - but lost books are mourned, and their return marked with rejoicing.
  • All Inland Revenue correspondence has a return address on the back of the envelope.
  • Parents pay £3 to join the service and then a further £1 to hire a toy for two weeks, 50p of which will be refunded on return of the item.
giving back, handing back, replacement, restoration, reinstatement, restitution
1.3 American Football A play in which the ball is caught after a kick or pass interception and is advanced by running; an advance of this kind.
Example sentences
  • Thank goodness for Desmond Howard's 95-yard punt return for a touchdown.
  • Clements displayed those abilities on a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Colts on November 4.
  • His 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999 is a record.
1.4(In tennis and other sports) a stroke played in response to a serve or other stroke by one’s opponent.
Example sentences
  • He nets a backhand return on the first set point but forces an error with the second, and the crowd goes bananas!
  • The technology can resolve disputes for viewers over line calls, compare first and second serves and identify areas where returns of serve are made.
  • Her opponent from Eastridge nailed a cross-court winner on the return.
1.5A thing that has been given or sent back, especially an unwanted ticket for a sports event or play.
Example sentences
  • With the 2,750-seat City Center selling out every performance (with a long nightly line outside the box office hopefully waiting for returns) it must be judged a smashing success.
  • The 300 tickets available for the event sold out weeks ago and there is a long waiting list of people hoping for returns.
  • 37-year-old Hughes had audiences queuing around the block for returns when he staged his first one-man show, Map, at the Traverse in 2002.
1.6 (also return ticket) chiefly British A ticket that allows someone to travel to a place and back again; a round trip ticket.
Example sentences
  • When he arrived at Heathrow on 4 March he had a return ticket and told the immigration officer that he was coming to this country as a tourist for two and a half weeks.
  • To get to my conference on time, I must fly back to New York and use my original return ticket.
  • Club prices start at stg £3,068 for a return ticket.
1.7An electrical conductor bringing a current back to its source.
1.8 (also return game) A second contest between the same opponents.
Example sentences
  • He became one of the few trusted confidantes of Bobby Fischer, who in turn made Torre his official second for his 1992 return match with Boris Spassky.
  • Undefeated Mayo continued to advance its bid for a place in the knockout stages of the All-Ireland Over-40s football championship by defeating Cavan in the return game at Tarmonbarry on Thursday evening.
  • Despite a spirited effort from HMS Tireless the submariners lost the inaugural match but they are already looking forward to a return match and the chance to level the score.
2 (often returns) A profit from an investment: product areas are being developed to produce maximum returns
More example sentences
  • Quick returns on investment and high dividends have to be achieved to keep the confidence of shareholders.
  • Diversification will be critical for investors looking for steady returns in a low interest rate environment.
  • The emphasis is on secure long-term investment and the guaranteed returns are currently as low as four per cent per annum.
yield, profit, gain, revenue, interest, dividend
2.1A good rate of return.
3An official report or statement submitted in response to a formal demand: census returns
More example sentences
  • Examining surviving Victorian housing from outside and from within can be very revealing particularly if these can be matched to information from Census returns.
  • Secondly, we built a database of information transcribed from the census returns.
  • However, SER staff registers suggest that the staff at Ashford works in 1881 was 1,366, far beyond the 496 of the census return.
statement, report, submission, record, dossier;
document, form
3.1 Law An endorsement or report by a court officer or sheriff on a writ.
4Election to office: we campaigned for the return of Young and Elkins
More example sentences
  • New ground has also been broken with the return of a black Conservative MP.
  • This year the Green Party is campaigning hard for the return of political parties to this Parliament that can work together in a cooperative and consultative way, for the common good.
  • The general election of June 1951 saw the return of significant numbers of right-wing deputies for the first time since 1945.
4.1An official report of the results of an election: falsification of the election return
More example sentences
  • On the other hand, the regional gulf in Britain revealed by the election returns was very plain.
  • Minority party representation is guaranteed in both chambers regardless of election returns.
  • All had appeared in readiness for Harris to deliver the coup de grace to Gore on Saturday, once the absentee ballot returns were completed.
5 (also carriage return) A key pressed to move the carriage of an electric typewriter back to a fixed position.
5.1 (also return key) A key pressed on a computer keyboard to simulate a carriage return in a word-processing program, or to indicate the end of a command or data string.
Example sentences
  • Type another question in the unasked column and press the return key.
  • Don't type ‘y’ or ‘yes’; just accept the defaults by hitting the return key.
  • However, this morning the number key containing the dollar sign stopped working, followed by the delete key and the return key.
6 Architecture A part receding from the line of the front, for example the side of a house or of a window opening.
Example sentences
  • The master bedroom is off the first floor return which has a window that overlooks the River Suir.
  • A mahogany staircase leads to the upper floor and on the return there is a large arched window with antique coloured glass panels.
  • The garden level can be accessed independently from the front garden as well as from the hall floor return.



in return

As a response, exchange, or reward for something: he leaves the house to his sister in return for her kindness
More example sentences
  • Immunity from prosecution in return for truthful testimony was discussed early on, and rejected.
  • If you're not being paid much for the job you're doing, make sure you get something out of it in return at the time.
  • He says he gives a lot of himself teaching, but gets a lot in return.
in exchange for, as a reward for, as compensation for

many happy returns (of the day)

Used as a greeting to someone on their birthday.
Example sentences
  • Congratulations and many happy returns of the day to Mrs Bridget Caden, Tooreen, Crossmolina, who today celebrates her 100th birthday.
  • And personally, I'm looking forward very eagerly to many, many happy returns of the day.
  • We are delighted to extend best wishes and many happy returns to Ted Clark, Langanoran, on the occasion of his birthday over the weekend.

return thanks

Express thanks, especially in a grace at a meal or in response to a toast or condolence.
Example sentences
  • Amos said, ‘Jaben, would you return thanks for this meal?’
  • So, one of those days when you feel that surviving a car journey is something to return thanks to God for, like 17th century travellers used to when they had safely crossed the Atlantic.
  • We had grace around the dinner table, and we all had to take turns in praying and returning thanks every morning.



Pronunciation: /rəˈtərnəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • In Germany, cartons have gained a reputation for being environmentally unfriendly, and there has been a movement to encourage the use of returnable bottles.
  • Some magazines, however, are not returnable and these are generally only stocked by newsagents when specifically ordered by customers.
  • Those that wished to receive the box were asked for a £10 returnable down payment and told the box would arrive before Christmas.


Pronunciation: /rəˈtərnər/
Example sentences
  • ‘At the moment, our ability to attract returners is reducing and our reliance on supply teachers, some of whom leave a lot to be desired, is increasing,’ she said.
  • The Australian Open champion has won seven Grand Slam titles and is the best returner in the game.
  • As emigration began to rise inexorably in the 1980s, the focus of attention shifted away from returners and toward the burgeoning diasporic communities in the United States and elsewhere.


Middle English: the verb from Old French returner, from Latin re- 'back' + tornare 'to turn'; the noun via Anglo-Norman French.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·turn

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