Definition of regress in US English:



Pronunciation /rəˈɡrɛs//rəˈɡres/
  • 1no object Return to a former or less developed state.

    ‘art has been regressing toward adolescence for more than a generation now’
    • ‘We have regressed in our relationship to illness, and the example of diabetes illustrates how we have lost faith in science to cure physical ailment.’
    • ‘The reality was that we lost, Galway made progress, went on to win the All-Ireland, whereas we regressed.’
    • ‘The question of ‘what is to be done’ often regressed into a brainstorming session, as if politicians were PR managers trying to sell a new brand of toothpaste.’
    • ‘The physiological changes usually regress after the delivery.’
    • ‘Abandoning the delicate touches of their studio work, they regress with a storming set of balls-out rock, mixing the deft lyricism of Neil Young with the sheer power of Led Zeppelin.’
    • ‘It is as if we are regressing instead of moving forward.’
    • ‘The position of rural women has regressed since the age of socialism.’
    • ‘The economy may have progressed in recent years but society has in some respects regressed.’
    • ‘‘If anything, we have regressed rather than progressed,’ Brown said in his opening statement.’
    • ‘Instead of showing progression we seem to be regressing in our serials these days.’
    • ‘His music, instead of advancing, regressed; the songs became strangely lethargic; they featured a pumping harmonium but very little harmony.’
    • ‘As the match progressed so the football regressed but City, to their credit, looked comfortable and assured and were doing their best to eke, if not exactly carve, out chances.’
    • ‘In fact we're rapidly regressing and the number of dentists, especially NHS ones, is plummeting.’
    • ‘We are regressing in our democratic governance.’
    • ‘Mr Hughes said he had a couple more sessions to go before a scan would reveal whether the tumour had regressed.’
    • ‘We are supposed to be progressing, but as far as education is concerned we are regressing.’
    • ‘Dillon is a fine player yet he has clearly regressed since last year.’
    • ‘This time around, we've kind of slipped up and regressed in the eyes of the people here, which disappoints me greatly.’
    • ‘He also said that the case meant he and his wife had been away from their child for the last six weeks and his condition had regressed in that time.’
    • ‘Still, imagine for a moment that the market is disposed to regress toward its same old 9% mean for the 10 years from 1997 to 2007.’
    revert, retrogress, relapse, lapse, backslide, go backwards, slip back, drift back, subside, sink back
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Return mentally to a former stage of life or a supposed previous life, especially through hypnosis or mental illness.
      no object ‘she claims to be able to regress to the Roman era’
      with object ‘I regressed Sylvia to early childhood’
      • ‘But if you free yourself of these expectations and regress back to a seventh grade mentality, you will have a great time.’
      • ‘In some ways I was mentally regressing anyway, so I find flatulence quite amusing now.’
      • ‘It's also common for preschoolers to react to a parent's departure by regressing to younger behaviors, such as whining or asking for a bottle.’
      • ‘Often the parent feels helpless and very discouraged and may also give up on the child which reinforces the child's feelings of inadequacy and may cause the child to retreat or regress further.’
      • ‘It was common, she said, for children to regress, both behaviourally and academically.’
      • ‘In supportive therapy, the therapist works to help the patient not regress around this phase.’
      • ‘It occurs to me now that I'd regressed to the stage before I had teeth, when the only kind of eating I could do was sucking.’
      • ‘People under stress often regress to earlier stages of development.’
      • ‘Under hypnosis, I was regressed to a time I felt this feeling, and recalled standing terrified at the bottom of the Sears Tower in Chicago, and literally felt the associated nausea.’
      • ‘‘These children are regressing very quickly without the intervention of therapists and psychologists,’ said Alliance chairman John Nyhan.’
      • ‘At one point he regresses back into his CID persona from years ago.’
      • ‘We are certainly given no clues that these flashes of black indicate that Julie is ‘denying her memories’ or that she is trying to repel her memories and obliterate the past by regressing to a time before memory was active in her as a subject.’
      • ‘Sometimes its challenges may appear so overwhelming that individuals break down, give up, or regress to a previous stage of development, returning to the mother in her archetypal aspect of nurturer and container.’
      • ‘Young kids may become clingy and regress to earlier behavior, such as wanting to sleep with their parents or wetting the bed.’
      • ‘Good grief, she was regressing into a giddy teenager!’
      • ‘The only problem with removal from the home is that while the kid improves, home stays the same and the child regresses when they return, whether it is violence, neglect or something else.’
      • ‘He was practically regressing into his single-digit years.’
      • ‘With Rain, I was able to regress into my last life and discover that I was one of the greatest men in history!’
      • ‘She had said those things shortly before regressing back into the delirium that she had been in almost since he had found her.’
      • ‘Her mind is not deranged, it has just regressed into that of one without advanced mental capacities.’
  • 2Statistics
    with object Calculate the coefficient or coefficients of regression of (a variable) against or on another variable.

    • ‘First, the suspected mediator variable is regressed onto the predictor variable.’
    • ‘For this research question, we regressed variables reflecting each youth's level of involvement on each latent dimension on covariate terms.’
    • ‘The independent variables (maternal caring, paternal caring, school climate caring, school climate trust and school climate morale) were regressed on the dependent variable caring.’
    • ‘In the second stage, indirect paths were examined by regressing each proximal variable on the distal variables.’
    • ‘This type of analysis obtains estimates of main path coefficients by regressing each endogenous variable on those variables that directly impinge upon it.’
  • 3Astronomy
    no object Move in a retrograde direction.


Pronunciation /ˈrēˌɡres//ˈriˌɡrɛs/
  • 1The action of returning to a former or less developed state.

    • ‘The ritual of routine visits for most chronic diseases usually includes monitoring to check on the progress or regress of the disease and the development of complications.’
    • ‘So it looks as though internalist justifications are like irritatingly persistent children in that they give rise to an unending regress of reasons for reasons.’
    • ‘Take Ronnie as an example of the progress or regress of the last however-long in music.’
    • ‘If the whole universe is expanding at a rate that is calculable, then by regress, we can go back to the starting point of this expansion.’
    • ‘Invoking a ‘presumption’ is meant to prevent any such regress getting started.’
    • ‘I am really angry and upset about the ‘progress’, or should I say regress, going on there.’
    • ‘The tendency of rational progress to become irrational regress arises much earlier.’
    • ‘That being so, those sentences exhibit, after all, no signs of the feared regress.’
    • ‘This regress is signalled not only by increases in mental confusion but by typography less and less coherent, the type straying over the page, and with some pages simply blank.’
    • ‘The regress is largely either ignored or defined away - to a point.’
  • 2Philosophy
    A series of statements in which a logical procedure is continually reapplied to its own result without approaching a useful conclusion (e.g. defining something in terms of itself).

    • ‘One criticism of this is that it does not explain how the act of will itself occurs, and suggests an infinite causal regress; another is that it misrepresents and exaggerates our awareness of the movements involved in our behaviour.’
    • ‘But since the Theory requires that for any group of entities with a common property, there is a Form to explain the commonality, it appears that the theory does indeed give rise to the vicious regress.’
    • ‘First, there is a potential regress of rules, that is, that explicit rules requires further rules to apply them, and so on.’
    • ‘The first of these is Galen Strawson's claim that the indeterminist's conception of of an agent as acting in view of prior motives while not being determined by them ineluctably leads to a vicious regress.’
    • ‘Demea's argument is that nothing can exist without a cause, that the idea of an infinite regress of causes is absurd, and that the regress can be brought to an end only by there being an ultimate cause who necessarily exists.’


Late Middle English (as a noun): from Latin regressus, from regredi ‘go back, return’, from re- ‘back’ + gradi ‘to walk’.