One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A reconsideration or re-examination of something previously discussed. Usually in plural.
2The action or an act of withdrawing a statement, accusation, etc., which is now admitted to be erroneous or unjustified; = "retraction". Chiefly formal in later use.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Capgrave (1393–1464), prior of Bishop's Lynn, theologian, and historian. From classical Latin retractātiōn-, retractātiō action of drawing back, action of shrinking from an undertaking, action of taking back one's words, action of handling again, repetition, re-examination, reconsideration, in post-classical Latin also (in rhetoric) repetition of the same word in a different sense, (in plural, retractationes) title of a work by St Augustine (427) from retractāt-, past participial stem of retractāre + -iō. Compare Middle French retractacion, retractation act of withdrawing formally what one has said or written previously, Catalan retractació, Spanish retractación, Italian ritrattazione retraction, annulment, reconsideration, correction, (in plural) the title of a work by St Augustine.
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