Definition of retrieve in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Get or bring (something) back; regain possession of.

    ‘I was sent to retrieve the balls from his garden’
    ‘Steven stooped and retrieved his hat’
    • ‘If you change your will without retrieving the one that was filed, the newer last will and testament will control the disposition of your estate.’
    • ‘Leaving Martin in the hallway, I retrieved my book-bag from the Photography classroom and headed for the Chemistry lab.’
    • ‘Magellan said he'd take whatever she had in the kitchen, so Ava went in and prepared him a sandwich, poured a beer and retrieved one of their rare oranges.’
    • ‘The old man is too enfeebled to make the journey, and sends his young counterpart on the voyage to retrieve the treasure.’
    • ‘James II flung the great seal into the Thames when he fled in 1688, hoping to bring government to a standstill, but it was retrieved by a fisherman.’
    • ‘My companions and I are on a quest to retrieve the artifact and bring it back to the realm, at all costs.’
    • ‘If alive we are to amount a rescue party to retrieve them.’
    • ‘He returned to the beach, retrieved his and Jake's surfboards and then brought them out to where we were still in the water.’
    • ‘We made our way to the front door, where Nathaniel retrieved his coat and hat and called for his coachman.’
    • ‘He is sent to Mexico to retrieve a rare pistol, nicknamed ‘The Mexican.’’
    • ‘At around 1.30 pm, the vehicle was successfully retrieved from the water.’
    • ‘There is one canister placed in the center of the map and each team must retrieve the canister and bring it back to their team's base.’
    • ‘He had to retrieve his friend, and bring him back to Bruth and every one else who cared about him.’
    • ‘By design, everyone was forbidden from viewing, modifying or retrieving articles they had sent to the next person in the process chain.’
    • ‘‘I've gotta go,’ she told them, retrieving Jason from Mabel's arms.’
    • ‘The last thing I got was my staff that was retrieved from outside of town for me, and when I had my bag slung over my shoulder, I turned around to exit the room.’
    • ‘She picked up the bucket next to the well, retrieved water with sure hands this time, and continued on her way.’
    • ‘From there they called for a tow truck and sent it out to retrieve the car.’
    • ‘I have sent both of them to retrieve the rightful king.’
    • ‘I sat down in a chair in the waiting area while he went and retrieved the proper paperwork.’
    get back, recover, regain, regain possession of, win back, recoup, reclaim, repossess, redeem, have returned
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a dog) find and bring back (game or an object).
      • ‘Each dog was asked to retrieve a pheasant from the river and all of the 16 completed this task without difficulty.’
      • ‘If possible, use all the types of birds the dog may retrieve in the future.’
    2. 1.2 Bring (something) back into one's mind.
      ‘the police hope to encourage him to retrieve forgotten memories’
      • ‘One hundred college students retrieved autobiographical memories associated with panic, trauma, worry, and social anxiety.’
      • ‘Julia hesitates, but suggests that perhaps some memories can be retrieved through hypnosis.’
      • ‘It's a bracing mental workout that solidifies the memory by actively retrieving information from the recesses of one's own mind.’
      • ‘The fact that memories cannot be retrieved in a situation like this was right enough, but Cecil was doing a good enough job of restarting his relationship.’
      • ‘Think Casablanca, and the first thing that your mind retrieves isn't the script but the raw feel - the gritty texture of Rick's Café Américain.’
      • ‘In her dream, there had been words for everything, but now it was like cupping water, or trying to retrieve a long lost memory - impossible.’
      • ‘After forgetting the passphrase, there is no way to retrieve the information.’
      • ‘Thus, bizarre items are overestimated to the extent that they are more easily retrieved from memory.’
      • ‘They can keep more instructions in mind at once and retrieve information from memory more rapidly.’
      • ‘He didn't want to bother trying to remember it, trying to sift through the last few sane portions of his mind and his memories to retrieve the name and the life it had led.’
      • ‘Nevertheless she carefully noted his words, his expression and tone of voice, a memory image to be retrieved and considered later.’
      • ‘Something such as memory and how the brain stores, retrieves and recognizes it is a total enigma at this point.’
      • ‘Perhaps holding on is a way of marking milestones, but in the final analysis each of those milestones is a moment that has passed and that cannot be retrieved except in memory.’
    3. 1.3 Find or extract (information stored in a computer).
      • ‘To maintain data in a database, data must be retrieved and stored in a consistent, reliable, and efficient manner.’
      • ‘Using a database ensures that we can store and retrieve data needed by our web application without having to create our own persistent storage layer.’
      • ‘When the migrated data is requested, the software retrieves the archived data for access.’
      • ‘The problem is not so much the technology needed to keep up with the volume of storage demands as it is the more human problem of keeping track of what is stored and retrieving just what you need in the future.’
      • ‘It's imperative that the stored data can be retrieved if an audit takes place.’
      • ‘While it is often a good idea to use a database for storing and retrieving information in a web application, it is not always obvious how to go about structuring the tables in that database.’
      • ‘The lab assistants will also show users how to store data and retrieve it from the public disk drive.’
      • ‘Cache memory stores frequently accessed data close to the processor where it can be retrieved more quickly than data stored in the main memory.’
      • ‘The database makes it easy and safe for us to store and retrieve information, and the Mason components make it easy for us to create dynamic output for the end user.’
      • ‘Backup is faster, as is throughput, the rate at which data is stored and retrieved.’
      • ‘Databases excel at storing and retrieving information quickly and easily and make it possible for web developers to create sophisticated applications without getting bogged down in the details.’
      • ‘Do you have a computer available to retrieve e-mail and implement your online marketing strategy?’
      • ‘That means notebook computers could immediately retrieve any images captured at checkout counters or inside stores.’
      • ‘So creating point-in-time backup copies of critical data is required to be able to retrieve deleted or corrupted information.’
      • ‘The ease with which information can be retrieved from a site ranks highly among criteria by which users rate a Web site.’
      • ‘Just click the ‘send a check’ option at the bottom of the screen and your order number will be retrieved from our database when the check is received.’
      • ‘When returning to these Web sites, the browser looks for the cookies stored on the computer and retrieves the information to save time.’
      • ‘When a user retrieves free but useful information from a Web site, the Web site is said to have a Gift Model as one component of its business model since it creates value to the business actor.’
      • ‘Of course the images were still there, and several people on the Internet gave the photographer the information he needed to retrieve them.’
      • ‘One of the advantages of using a Web-based approach is that email can be retrieved far more quickly than if you use a desktop-based spam filtering package.’
    4. 1.4 Put right or improve (an unwelcome situation)
      ‘he made one last desperate attempt to retrieve the situation’
      • ‘Though the disaster could have been retrieved, it brought France and Spain into the conflict and placed in jeopardy Britain's command of the seas.’
      • ‘Although he was reviled at the time as a shallow opportunist, it is fairer to see Brienne as a pragmatic political operator who did what he could to retrieve an increasingly impossible situation.’
      • ‘On Berg's admission to hospital, there were two unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the situation surgically.’
      put right, set right, set to rights, put to rights, rectify, remedy, restore, solve, sort out, straighten out, resolve, deal with, correct, repair, mend, fix, redress, make good
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5no object Reel or bring in a fishing line.
      • ‘A few years ago I attempted to learn how to retrieve fly line into loops held in my hand.’
      • ‘Speed can also be critical when the hooked fish is streaking toward you and you must retrieve the slack line in order to keep the fish "on the reel."’


  • 1An act of retrieving something, especially game that has been shot.

    • ‘In the trained retrieve, we show the dog how to be successful by first thoroughly teaching it what to do before we begin reinforcing the command "Fetch."’
    • ‘Many partially trained dogs tend to "claim the prey" and are reluctant to complete the retrieve because they want to keep it rather than delivering to you.’
    1. 1.1 An act of reeling or drawing in a fishing line.
      • ‘The best feature on this reel is the very fast retrieve.’
      • ‘The slow retrieve, particularly early season, does bring some very good results.’
      • ‘I fished it with such a slow retrieve that the fly was virtually static.’
      • ‘Maybe it is my old spinning days, but I just feel comfortable with my dominant hand holding the rod leaving the left hand for the retrieve.’
      • ‘If you start the retrieve with the tip of the rod high above the water, you will create a big belly of slack that absorbs every movement of your line hand.’
  • 2archaic The possibility of recovery.

    ‘he ruined himself beyond retrieve’
    • ‘At length, all hope was at an end; I was ruined beyond retrieve.’
    • ‘Their strong friendship was beyond retrieve after the last two years.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘find lost game’): from Old French retroeve-, stressed stem of retrover ‘find again’.