Definition of retrograde in English:



  • 1Directed or moving backwards.

    ‘a retrograde flow’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This newest version is both progressive and retrograde.’
    • ‘His realistic style was considered too retrograde and old-fashioned.’
    • ‘American doctrinal thought exhibited a certain retrograde character during the years before the Civil War.’
    • ‘Speckle tracking in migrating cells with retrograde flow had turned out to be more challenging.’
    • ‘This argument seeks to make conservatism, not retrograde but prescient.’
    • ‘In some patients the atrioventricular node allows retrograde conduction of ventricular impulses to the atria.’
    • ‘Obviously, aortic insufficiency can lead to an additional augmentation of the retrograde flow.’
    • ‘Theirs was no retrograde revival of past styles, but a reworking of Giotto and the Italian primitives through a modernist lens, specifically, the ironic classicism of Giorgio de Chirico.’
    • ‘On the contrary, his politics were often questionably retrograde.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Once responsive data becomes available in our future-side databases, it is forwarded to a Temporal Router, encoded in a wave packet riding a retrograde quantum effect, and passed back to our present-side machines.’
    • ‘It is certainly not a retrograde piece of aesthetics, but it hardly seems to break the new ground that was hoped for, either.’
    • ‘Some in Hollywood, though, say that the women who've scaled the studio hierarchy have done so by adopting retrograde ideas.’
    • ‘Many of course would stop here and dismiss this inherently nostalgic call for a revalidation of the beautiful as hopelessly retrograde and unproductive.’
    • ‘They argue that the style is retrograde and that they reflect neither recent Malian contemporary art nor a Malian aesthetic.’
    • ‘It should come as no surprise that his approach is deemed politically retrograde and unacceptable.’
    backward, backwards, reverse, rearward, directed backwards, retreating, retrogressive
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    1. 1.1Astrology Astronomy (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
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mercury turns retrograde, this time in the air sign of Libra, from September 14 to October 6.’
      • ‘Or, look at the movement of Saturn, which turns retrograde on October 11.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Sun's conjunction with retrograde Mercury in Cancer shows her dislike of public speaking.’
    2. 1.2Astronomy (of the orbit or rotation of a planet or planetary satellite) in a reverse direction from that normal in the solar system.
      ‘the outer satellites move in retrograde orbits’
      • ‘The remaining three, however, have retrograde orbits.’
      • ‘Just 220 km in diameter, Phoebe is in a very peculiar, retrograde orbit, and is very dark.’
      • ‘Before Copernicus formulated his theory, retrograde planetary motions were just ‘facts’.’
      • ‘The larger impact sites have prompted speculation that collisions in Phoebe's past could have blasted off enough material to have formed Saturn's smaller retrograde moons.’
      • ‘It has an odd, retrograde rotation so slow that one Venus day is around 250 Earth days long.’
      • ‘All six are retrograde orbits with inclinations greater than 90 degrees.’
  • 2Reverting to an earlier and inferior condition.

    ‘to go back on the progress that has been made would be a retrograde step’
    • ‘It seemed to stand for everything that was most retrograde and irrelevant.’
    • ‘The song can be perceived in a feminist way - as attacking retrograde, restrictive beauty standards that obviously not a lot of women can relate to.’
    • ‘Life drawing has come to be regarded as a retrograde activity that now represents an ideological divide.’
    • ‘Against those who viewed the ‘ama de casa’ as a retrograde obstacle to modernization, the Association reminded them of the social value of housewives in the regulation of the family economy and the formation of children.’
    • ‘The introduction into logic of psychological criteria of conclusiveness and truth is now often thought of as a retrograde step.’
    • ‘Rather, hers was a revivalism that could use indigenous culture, especially the Irish language, to expose the retrograde tendencies that persisted within Irish society.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Closing small rural primary schools is a retrograde step, " said Deputy Ring.’
    • ‘Morgan argues that forcing organization theory into lexicons, literal language and precise formulations is a retrograde step.’
    • ‘However, a retrograde feature is that the vehicle only has one airbag, almost uniquely on the Irish market.’
    • ‘That had been regarded as a retrograde move by some critics; Tchaikovsky did not fit with their taste.’
    • ‘Would this, in the eyes of the Government, be a retrograde step?’
    • ‘The removal of car tax also proved irresistible to drivers but is seen in retrospect as a retrograde step, and, according to Brennan, ‘over the top’.’
    • ‘Whatever one calls the event, under the influence, first of Alfred Cobban, later of Francois Furet, the view of the Revolution as an attack of the bourgeoisie against a retrograde feudal order was demolished.’
    • ‘Ned and Stacey asks the question of whether such a preposterously retrograde idea could be the basis of a comedy in the 1990s.’
    • ‘The appellant asserts that the building was uninhabitable when he moved in, and that to return it to that state would be a retrograde step.’
    • ‘Mr Ancram called the company's decision to close the post office a retrograde step.’
    • ‘Residential school histories portray in painful detail an educationally retrograde system of regimentation and deculturalization stretching right across the country.’
    • ‘Perhaps the model is in need of some updating, and no longer fulfils all of its original objectives, but replacing it with an even more flawed design is surely a retrograde step.’
    for the worse, regressive, negative, downhill, unwelcome, unprogressive
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of amnesia) involving the period immediately preceding the causal event.
      • ‘However, he described the injury as ‘severe’ given the CT scan findings, the fracture and retrograde amnesia.’
      • ‘‘That's called retrograde amnesia, which is common,’ Umberto said.’
      • ‘Reports by patients of memory loss are of the erasing of autobiographical memories or retrograde amnesia.’
      • ‘Keep in mind that I crashed my car and got retrograde amnesia or something.’
      • ‘The amount of retrograde amnesia in H. M., for example, may have been grossly underestimated.’
  • 3(of the order of something) reversed; inverse.

    ‘the retrograde form of these inscriptions’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Also, as if Bach had splashed it against the far wall of the work, it comes back at us in retrograde; we find those ratios operating in reverse, coming toward us.’
    • ‘There is a retrograde filtration process where only certain films made east of the Bosphorous and south of the Equator actually make it back to a critiquing European audience, creating a sort of sampling bias.’
    • ‘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 most forward sections fall into line with the rest of the soldiers, who then join in the retrograde maneuver.’
    • ‘His interest in counterpoint is shown in a set of 120 canons, most of them on the ‘Miserere’ plainsong, which use such techniques as augmentation, diminution, and retrograde motion.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They all demand hyper-mobility and a demonic coordination that has you switching into retrograde or performing the top half of one phrase with the bottom of another.’
  • 4Geology
    (of a metamorphic change) resulting from a decrease in temperature or pressure.

    • ‘The stretching lineation is commonly defined by biotite and by recrystallized plagioclase in tails surrounding rotated, moderately retrograded, garnet porphyroclasts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


  • A degenerate person.

    • ‘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.’
    reprobate, debauchee, rake, profligate, libertine, roué, loose-liver
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  • 1archaic Go back in position or time.

    ‘our history must retrograde for the space of a few pages’
    • ‘All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Revert to an earlier and inferior condition.
      ‘people cannot habitually trample on law and justice without retrograding toward barbarism’
      • ‘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.’’
      revert, retrogress, relapse, lapse, backslide, go backwards, slip back, drift back, subside, sink back
      View synonyms
  • 2Astronomy
    Show retrograde motion.

    ‘all the planets will at some time appear to retrograde’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon (not really planets).’
    • ‘Had the subsequently discovered planet Uranus displayed retrograde motion, the Newtonian theory would have been off the hook.’
    • ‘This weekend's Sun and Mercury march into fiery Aries, named for an ancient war god - while Pluto, said to activate the collective unconscious, retrogrades in Sagittarius, another fire sign, till the end of August.’
    • ‘Mars retrogrades among the stars of Ophiuchus all month.’


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