Definition of retard in US English:



[with object]
Pronunciation /riˈtärd//rɪˈtɑrd/
  • Delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment.

    ‘our progress was retarded by unforeseen difficulties’
    • ‘Social scientists have been examining ways to increase community support for local agriculture and local foods and to retard the loss of agricultural space and renew our connection with the local agro-food system.’
    • ‘He said the slow pace at which the deal was being negotiated was retarding the development of the park, which he said had remained closed to tourists for sometime.’
    • ‘Giocoli claims that Nash's interpretation of game theory was beset by other difficulties retarding its acceptance by mainstream economics.’
    • ‘However, other factors such as weak business confidence may be retarding investment at this time.’
    • ‘Another side effect of fear is that it absolutely retards the flow of information inside a company.’
    • ‘Generally, any stress condition that retards plant growth may increase prussic acid levels in plants.’
    • ‘More important, the backlash against genetically modified foods is fading as new studies ease fears about the health and environmental effects of such crops, though serious obstacles still retard their potential abroad.’
    • ‘A nominally progressive tax structure to some degree retards the concentration over time of wealth among individuals.’
    • ‘But the coconut oil roast also leaves a layer of fat or oil on the outside surface of the nut to retard moisture migration and sogginess of the nut while the ice cream product is in the freezer case.’
    • ‘Famously, Forster accused the educational systems of the time of retarding the emotional development of schoolboys.’
    • ‘A new gas-based fire-protection system has also been installed, which reduces the level of oxygen in the room to retard a fire.’
    • ‘In addition, diuretics can be effective in retarding osteoporosis in postmenopausal patients.’
    • ‘Thomison notes, ‘Excess moisture during the early vegetative stages retards corn root development and can kill the deepest roots.’’
    • ‘In exchange, she will give him the secret to rejuvenation: when the powder is mixed with another ingredient, it not only retards the aging process, but reverses it completely.’
    • ‘The publicly provided good, while valued by the voters, neither stimulates nor retards economic growth throughout the course of the current legislative period.’
    • ‘Iron deficiency can retard mental development and impair physical growth in children and adolescents and often leads to anemia, which is a deficiency of red blood cells.’
    • ‘Restrictive legislation could retard the development of technology and slow the growth of electronic commerce.’
    • ‘Food additives perform many valuable functions like increasing flavor, adding extra minerals or other nutrients, and retarding spoilage.’
    • ‘Introducing wildlife preserves and adding 100,000 trees to retard the ongoing erosion, this project will also address water and flood management, along with urban planning.’
    • ‘Such gatekeeping makes no sense for genes expressed in fetal development or childhood, but genetic constructs that retard the onset of aging or protect us from adult cancers might come into play later in life.’
    delay, slow down, slow up, hold back, set back, keep back, hold up, postpone, put back, detain, decelerate, put a brake on
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Pronunciation /ˈriˌtɑrd//ˈrēˌtärd/
offensive, informal
  • A person who has a mental disability (often used as a general term of abuse).


Late 15th century: from French retarder, from Latin retardare, from re- ‘back’ + tardus ‘slow’.