Definition of return in English:


Syllabification: re·turn
Pronunciation: /riˈtərn


  • 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, repayrestore, 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 backanswer, reply, respond, counter, rejoin, retort, come back
  • 2.2(In tennis and other sports) hit or send (the ball) back to an opponent.
    More 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 Football Run upfield with the ball after fielding (a kick), intercepting (a pass), or recovering (a fumble).
    More 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.
    More 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).
    More 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


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  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
    More 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.
More 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.
More 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.



More 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.


More 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.

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