Definition of retrograde in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈretrəˌɡrād/


1Directed or moving backward: a retrograde flow
More example sentences
  • They argue that the style is retrograde and that they reflect neither recent Malian contemporary art nor a Malian aesthetic.
  • Maybe it's old-fashioned, retrograde, romantic, but I would tend to draw a distinction between an author's decision to create a novel and a studio's decision to option it for adaptation.
  • Then turn the nuts on the suspending rods, so as to compress the springs just enough to give the platen a quick retrograde motion; observing, at the same time, to get the surface of the platen parallel with the surface of the bed.
backward, backwards, reverse, rearward
1.1Reverting to an earlier and inferior condition: to go back on the progress that has been made would be a retrograde step
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  • You don't need to be a usability expert to see that this is a retrograde step.
  • In fact, throughout the strike the union refused to discuss what it believed to be the company's retrograde plan.
  • Ned and Stacey asks the question of whether such a preposterously retrograde idea could be the basis of a comedy in the 1990s.
for the worse, regressive, negative, downhill, unwelcome
1.2(Of the order of something) reversed; inverse: the retrograde form of these inscriptions
More example sentences
  • These last two devices may be combined to form a mirror canon or canon in retrograde inversion, where the second voice has the melody backwards and with the intervals inverted.
  • She called out for individuals to do the movement in retrograde, change direction, or otherwise alter the phrase, to create a choreographic pattern she was visualizing on the spot.
  • The names of Athena and Herakles are spelled the same way in each case, but both in the main field are retrograde inscriptions in contrast to the orthograde writing on the shoulder.
1.3(Of amnesia) involving the period immediately preceding the causal event.
Example sentences
  • ‘That's called retrograde amnesia, which is common,’ Umberto said.
  • Keep in mind that I crashed my car and got retrograde amnesia or something.
  • Reports by patients of memory loss are of the erasing of autobiographical memories or retrograde amnesia.
1.4 Geology (Of a metamorphic change) resulting from a decrease in temperature or pressure.
Example sentences
  • The stretching lineation is commonly defined by biotite and by recrystallized plagioclase in tails surrounding rotated, moderately retrograded, garnet porphyroclasts.
  • A large pebble with a gneissose appearance is a retrograded orthogneiss, consisting of quartz, plagioclase, feldspar and muscovite, with relics of biotite, mostly chloritized, and a weakly folded tectonic foliation.
  • The sample was collected from a 0.5 - Im wide pegmatite pocket in a partly retrograded, undeformed part of an equigranular, medium - to coarse-grained gabbro at Lavikdal.
1.5 Astronomy & Astrology (Of the apparent motion of a planet) in a reverse direction from normal (from east to west), resulting from the relative orbital progress of the earth and the planet. The opposite of prograde.
Example sentences
  • There are dozens of less retrograde travelers in whose hoofprints we will also be journeying, for whom the pleasures of Eastern travel were not so strictly identical with the sublime egotism of Western identity formation.
  • Through a careful examination of the retrograde motion of Mercury through Cassiopeia, and the conjunction of Jupiter with Neptune, I've discovered that today is Doug's thirteen hundred and fiftieth birthday.
  • The Sun's conjunction with retrograde Mercury in Cancer shows her dislike of public speaking.
1.6 Astronomy (Of the orbit or rotation of a planet or planetary satellite) in a reverse direction from that normal in the solar system.
Example sentences
  • Just 220 km in diameter, Phoebe is in a very peculiar, retrograde orbit, and is very dark.
  • It has an odd, retrograde rotation so slow that one Venus day is around 250 Earth days long.
  • Before Copernicus formulated his theory, retrograde planetary motions were just ‘facts’.


A degenerate person.
Example sentences
  • As a consequence, for several decades now, the only students being taught this old style are the retrogrades, the people who are holding out in some way.


[no object]
1 archaic Go back in position or time: our history must retrograde for the space of a few pages
More example sentences
  • The business of anti-slavery was, and is, to purify the fountain, whence all these streams flow; if it turns aside to take charge of any one of the streams, however important, it is obvious enough that the whole work must retrograde; for, if the fountain be not kept pure, no one of the streams will flow with clear water.
  • All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.
1.1Revert to an earlier and usually inferior condition: people cannot habitually trample on law and justice without retrograding toward barbarism
More example sentences
  • One observer was heard to say that rather than depicting the progress of the past one hundred years, ‘it seemed to show we have retrograded in that time.’
2 Astronomy Show retrogradation: all the planets will at some time appear to retrograde
More example sentences
  • Mars retrogrades among the stars of Ophiuchus all month.
  • Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon (not really planets).
  • For forty days at a time, Venus reverses direction as seen against the stars, so that it retrogrades over the same part of the zodiac every eight years.



( rare)
Example sentences
  • HSV - 1 also retrogradely infects neurons in both the peripheral and the central nervous system through the nerve terminals innervating the peripheral tissues.
  • If the pathway conducts only retrogradely, the electrocardiogram in sinus rhythm will be normal and the pathway is said to be ‘concealed’.
  • The left atrium can be accessed either retrogradely via the aortic valve, by flexing the catheter tip through the mitral valve, or transeptally across the atrial septum.


Late Middle English (as a term in astronomy): from Latin retrogradus, from retro 'backward' + gradus 'step' (from gradi 'to walk').

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ret·ro·grade

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