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early 15c., retreve, originally in reference to dogs finding lost game, from Middle French retruev-, stem of Old French retreuver (Modern French retrouver) "find again, recover, meet again, recognize," from re- "again" (see re-) + trouver "to find," probably from Vulgar Latin *tropare "to compose" (see trove). Altered 16c. to retrive; modern form is from mid-17c.