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return definition


This page has 33 definitions of return in English. Return is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use return in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .


Alternative forms


From Middle English returnen, retornen, from Anglo-Norman returner, from Old French retourner, retorner, from Medieval Latin retornare (to turn back), from re- + tornare (to turn). Compare beturn.



return (third-person singular simple present returns, present participle returning, simple past and past participle returned)

  1. (intransitive) To come or go back (to a place or person).
    Although the birds fly north for the summer, they return here in winter.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter IV, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC, page 58:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on a certain afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. The three returned wondering and charmed with Mrs. Cooke; they were sure she had had no hand in the furnishing of that atrocious house.
    • 1942, “'I Came Through; I Shall Return'”, in The Advertiser[1]:
      "I came through and I shall return," General MacArthur declared when he spoke at Terowie of the beleagured Philippines.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, “Meeting Point”, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC, page 232:
      As soon as Julia returned with a constable, Timothy, who was on the point of exhaustion, prepared to give over to him gratefully. The newcomer turned out to be a powerful youngster, fully trained and eager to help, and he stripped off his tunic at once.
  2. (intransitive) To go back in thought, narration, or argument.
    To return to my story []
  3. (intransitive) To recur; to come again.
    Winter returns every year.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To turn back, retreat.
    • 1470–1485 (date produced), Thomas Malory, “(please specify the chapter)”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book V, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, →OCLC; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, →OCLC:
      ‘I suppose here is none woll be glad to returne – and as for me,’ seyde Sir Cador, ‘I had lever dye this day that onys to turne my bak.’
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To turn (something) round.
  6. (transitive) To place or put back something where it had been.
    Please return your hands to your lap.
  7. (transitive) To give something back to its original holder or owner.
    You should return the library book within one month.
  8. (transitive) To take back something to a vendor for a complete or partial refund.
    Yeah, it's $600,000 but, if it doesn't work, you can always return it. As long as it's undamaged and in the original packaging, I'll give you a full refund.
  9. To give in requital or recompense; to requite.
  10. (tennis) To bat the ball back over the net in response to a serve.
    The player couldn't return the serve because it was so fast.
  11. (card games) To play a card as a result of another player's lead.
    If one players plays a trump, the others must return a trump.
  12. (cricket) To throw a ball back to the wicket-keeper (or a fielder at that position) from somewhere in the field.
  13. (transitive) To say in reply; to respond.
    to return an answer;  to return thanks;  "Do it yourself!" she returned.
  14. (intransitive, computing) To relinquish control to the calling procedure.
  15. (transitive, computing) To pass (data) back to the calling procedure.
    This function returns the number of files in the directory.
  16. (transitive, dated) To retort; to throw back.
    to return the lie
  17. (transitive) To report, or bring back and make known.
    to return the result of an election
  18. (Britain, by extension) To elect according to the official report of the election officers.


Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


return (countable and uncountable, plural returns)

  1. The act of returning.
    I expect the house to be spotless upon my return.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter II, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC, pages 12–13:
      I had occasion [] to make a somewhat long business trip to Chicago, and on my return […] I found Farrar awaiting me in the railroad station. He smiled his wonted fraction by way of greeting, […], and finally leading me to his buggy, turned and drove out of town. I was completely mystified at such an unusual proceeding.
    • 1976, Reports of Cases Determined in the Courts of Appeal of the State of California, page 423:
      [] of the existence or nonexistence of parental intent to abandon a subject minor child, whether the best interests and welfare of such minor child will be served by taking custody from the parents, and whether return of a child to the parents would be detrimental to such child.
  2. A return ticket.
    Do you want a one-way or a return?
  3. An item that is returned, e.g. due to a defect, or the act of returning it.
    Last year there were 250 returns of this product, an improvement on the 500 returns the year before.
  4. An answer.
    a return to one's question
  5. An account, or formal report, of an action performed, of a duty discharged, of facts or statistics, etc.; especially, in the plural, a set of tabulated statistics prepared for general information.
    election returns; a return of the amount of goods produced or sold
    • 1942 May-June, Charles E. Lee, “The Brampton Railway”, in Railway Magazine, page 140, relating to an election in 1837:
      The other returns having come in, the result of the poll, that Sir James Graham had been superseded by Major Aglionby, was declared at Carlisle soon after 11 a.m.
  6. Gain or loss from an investment.
    It yielded a return of 5%.
    • 1651, Jer[emy] Taylor, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Francis Ashe [], →OCLC:
      from the few hours we spend in prayer and the exercises of a pious life, the return is great and profitable
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
      Liverpool have now won only five of their 17 home league games this season. It is a poor return for a team of Liverpool's pedigree and resources but, once again, Kenny Dalglish's team were the instigators of their own downfall as chance after chance went begging.
    • 2013 July 6, “The rise of smart beta”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8843, page 68:
      Investors face a quandary. Cash offers a return of virtually zero in many developed countries; government-bond yields may have risen in recent weeks but they are still unattractive. Equities have suffered two big bear markets since 2000 and are wobbling again. It is hardly surprising that pension funds, insurers and endowments are searching for new sources of return.
  7. (taxation, finance) A report of income submitted to a government for purposes of specifying exact tax payment amounts; a tax return.
    Hand in your return within 90 days of the end of the tax year.
  8. (computing) A carriage return character.
  9. (computing) The act of relinquishing control to the calling procedure.
  10. (computing) A return value: the data passed back from a called procedure.
  11. A return pipe, returning fluid to a boiler or other central plant (compare with flow pipe, which carries liquid away from a central plant).
    The boiler technician had to cut out the heating return to access the safety valve.
  12. A short perpendicular extension of a desk, usually slightly lower.
  13. (American football) The act of catching a ball after a punt and running it back towards the opposing team.
  14. (cricket) A throw from a fielder to the wicket-keeper or to another fielder at the wicket.
  15. (architecture) The continuation in a different direction, most often at a right angle, of a building, face of a building, or any member, such as a moulding; applied to the shorter in contradistinction to the longer.
    A facade of sixty feet east and west has a return of twenty feet north and south.


Derived terms

Terms derived from the noun return


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.