Definition of retch in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /rɛtʃ/


[no object]
1Make the sound and movement of vomiting: the sour taste in her mouth made her retch
More example sentences
  • Gabriel was very much awake, leaning over one side of the cot, coughing and retching as phlegm emitted from his mouth and fell to the floor.
  • She had seen him sweat and shake and retch in the grip of his craving.
  • Just a dry retch was all I could manage.
gag, heave, dry-heave, reach, convulse, almost vomit, have nausea, feel nauseous
informal keck
1.1 [with object] Vomit: he retched up a thin stream of vomit
More example sentences
  • For one moment, you forget whether you have come to empty your bladder or retch up the morning's breakfast.
  • I have seen protruding bellies, working so hard to get nutrients out of food that only rests for a few minutes before being retched up again.
  • William was pleased that he had not been sick, although a few of the prisoners had spent most of the journey with their head over the side retching their empty stomachs out.
vomit, cough up, bring something up, regurgitate;
British  be sick;
North American  get sick
informal puke (something up), chunder, chuck up, hurl, spew, do the technicolor yawn
British informal honk, sick something up
Scottish informal boke
North American informal spit up, barf, upchuck, toss one's cookies, blow chunks


A movement or sound of vomiting: with a sudden retch he vomited all over the floor
More example sentences
  • Rayne finished retching up the small amount of food quickly, but continued dry, racking retches for several seconds.
  • I get up blindly and leave, and outside spit egg-and-bread into my hands, dry retches of nothing clogging my throat like the tears which keep coming.
  • After the last retch, Stine forcefully bit down on his lip, as if to keep from vomiting again.


Mid 19th century: variant of dialect reach, from a Germanic base meaning 'spittle'.

Words that rhyme with retch

etch, fetch, ketch, kvetch, lech, outstretch, sketch, stretch, vetch, wretch

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: retch

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.