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[ri-trench] /rɪˈtrɛntʃ/
verb (used with object)
to cut down, reduce, or diminish; curtail (expenses).
to cut off or remove.
Military. to protect by a retrenchment.
verb (used without object)
to economize; reduce expenses:
They retrenched by eliminating half of the workers.
Origin of retrench
1600-10; < French retrencher (obsolete variant of retrancher), Middle French retrenchier, equivalent to re- re- + trenchier to trench
Related forms
retrenchable, adjective
retrencher, noun
unretrenchable, adjective
unretrenched, adjective
1. decrease, abridge, cut. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for retrench
  • Proponents of these measures fear that businesses will retrench as prices fall and their debts rise, creating a vicious circle.
  • Wal-Mart, though, is looking to expand overseas while the others retrench.
  • If rates go too high, consumers might retrench abruptly, which would cause a sharp economic slowdown.
  • The company continued to retrench and disappoint investors.
  • Demand for credit is lower, as companies and consumers retrench.
  • Collapsing financial markets and a rapidly deteriorating economy have touched off a race to retrench.
  • Households will retrench as unemployment rises and those with jobs fear they may lose them.
  • And, more ominously, meeting these demands is causing the region to retrench in its efforts to diversify.
  • They sense a historic opportunity as the flag-carriers, which mostly lose money on short-haul traffic, retrench.
  • In my view it's incompetent for politicians to attempt to retrench and carry out sweeping change at the same time.
British Dictionary definitions for retrench


to reduce or curtail (costs); economize
(transitive) to shorten, delete, or abridge
(transitive) to protect by a retrenchment
Derived Forms
retrenchable, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Old French retrenchier, from re- + trenchier to cut, from Latin truncāre to lop; see trench
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for retrench

1590s, "dig a new trench as a second line of defense," 1590s, probably a back-formation from retrenchment in the military sense. Related: Retrenched; retrenching.

"cut off, cut down, pare away" (expenses, etc.), 1620s, from obsolete French retrencher "to cut off, lessen, shorten" (Modern French retrancher, Old French retrenchier), from re- "back" (see re-) + Old French trenchier "to cut" (see trench). Related: Retrenched; retrenching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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