Definition of retch in English:



  • 1 Make the sound and movement of vomiting.

    ‘the sour taste in her mouth made her retch’
    • ‘Ask a 5-year-old if he wants zucchini with his dinner, and he'll probably produce retching sounds loud enough to startle the neighbors and scare the dog.’
    • ‘She still feels nauseous, so forces a finger down her throat but manages just a dry retch.’
    • ‘It makes choking and gasping noises, retching and hacking and throwing itself across the grass with incredible force.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In between the sounds of his gagging and retching, he sobbed wildly, gasping for breath, barely able to breathe.’
    • ‘I was hanging over the edge of the bed, gagging and retching, though mercifully nothing was coming out.’
    • ‘The thought made her retch, though her stomach was long empty.’
    • ‘She had seen him sweat and shake and retch in the grip of his craving.’
    • ‘Pain relief therefore meant pills, but Bea can't stand taking tablets - she retches, chokes and finds it virtually impossible to swallow them, and these were massive.’
    • ‘Just a dry retch was all I could manage.’
    • ‘Standing up quickly, she watched the boy roll around on the floor pathetically, crying, gasping and retching.’
    • ‘And suddenly a wave of nausea hit him, so that he had to lean his head against the side of the car and retch.’
    • ‘He began to violently retch, through nausea rather than any serious problem.’
    • ‘She was coughing and retching and her whole body was shaking in my arms.’
    • ‘Bile rises within me and I retch emptily, my sight blurring as the tears begin to fall.’
    • ‘In my room, I did what I could of my homework, until the urge to retch was too strong.’
    • ‘I tasted bile and retched again, my stomach jerking agonizingly.’
    • ‘Ray had to cover her mouth and nose, trying to prevent herself from retching as the smell reached her sensitive nostrils.’
    • ‘Within seconds, Evin could faintly be heard retching behind the door.’
    • ‘But the air was suddenly clean and clear and he was coughing so much he almost retched and Abby was coughing, too, sounding like she had pneumonia.’
    gag, heave, dry-heave, reach, convulse, almost vomit, have nausea, feel nauseous
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    1. 1.1[with object]Vomit.
      ‘he retched up a thin stream of vomit’
      • ‘In the morning when I woke up I found Mark retching the contents of his stomach up outside the tent.’
      • ‘The fetid stink combined with the pain immediately began to make Deuce feel sick to his stomach, and on several counts he almost retched up the good pheasant meal he'd taken earlier.’
      • ‘He retched the contents of his stomach into the toilet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The unmistakable gurgle of somebody retching his breakfast into a pail was omnipresent within the room.’
      • ‘She rolled onto her side and retched up all the water she had swallowed, a strangled sob following.’
      • ‘James felt his stomach churn, and retched the remaining contents of alcohol in his stomach to the streets below.’
      • ‘She felt like retching everything inside her, but all that came was a gurgling noise and a very ragged breath.’
      • ‘Rain came back with a plastic bowl and held it under me as I retched up whatever had been in my stomach.’
      • ‘Isabella retched up the meager contents of her stomach onto the ground and returned to the camp.’
      • ‘He nodded and opened his mouth, but before he could utter a word, he became even paler, if possible and rushed out into the bathroom where I heard him retching his guts out.’
      • ‘Once he was done retching his guts out, he sunk to the floor and felt his eyes sting with tears; the full realization of his pathetic lifestyle staring him right in the face.’
      • ‘Getting Giles into the car without hurting him wasn't easy, but the minute his head hit the back of the seat, he fell asleep, so at least she didn't have to worry about him retching his lungs out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For one moment, you forget whether you have come to empty your bladder or retch up the morning's breakfast.’
      vomit, cough up, bring something up, regurgitate
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  • A movement or sound of vomiting.

    ‘with a sudden retch he vomited all over the floor’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Timothy simultaneously suppressed a gasp of terror and a retch of repulsion.’
    • ‘She still feels nauseous, so forces a finger down her throat but manages just a dry retch.’
    • ‘After the last retch, Stine forcefully bit down on his lip, as if to keep from vomiting again.’
    • ‘I realised I didn't have food poisoning tonight as Luc spent most of the night in the bathroom with loud groans and retches.’


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