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Recede vs Retreat vs Retrograde vs Retract vs Back

Recede, retreatretrograderetractback can all mean to move or seem to move in a direction that is exactly the opposite of ahead or forward.

Recede stresses marked and usually gradually increasing distance from a given point, line, or position, but it implies movement on the part of what recedes only when a fixed point of view is indicated or understood.

When the point of view is that of a traveler or the distance is in time rather than in space, the receding thing is stationary and the point of view changes. In such a case either a gradual disappearance (as from view or consciousness) or a change in perspective is implied.

When used of persons and their ideas or attitudes, recede suggests departure from a fixed idea, or determined attitude, or a definite stand.

Retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached, usually because of uncertainty, or of imminent defeat or danger, or in obedience to orders.

Retrograde implies movement contrary to what is expected, normal, or natural; thus, a planet retrogrades when it moves or seems to move from east to west, or in a direction opposite to that of the usual planetary course. The verb is also used to imply the reverse of progress in the course of development (as of an institution, a species, or an individual).

Occasionally it is used to imply a going backward in time or an inversion of the chronological order.

Retract suggests a drawing backward or inward from a forward or exposed position, often in reference to those parts of an organism which can be thrust forward or drawn backward.

Back applies to any retrograde motion and is often qualified by an adverb (as up, out, or down ).

Often when followed by out or down it implies a receding from a stand or attitude, or a retreating from a promise or an engagement.