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a prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin meaning “backward” (retrogress); on this model, used in the formation of compound words (retrorocket).
Origin of retro-
< Latin, representing retrō (adv.), backward, back, behind Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for retro-


back or backwards: retroactive
located behind: retrolental
Word Origin
from Latin retrō behind, backwards
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 retro-

word-forming element meaning "backwards; behind," from Latin retro (prep.) "backward, back, behind," also of time, "formerly, in past times," probably originally the ablative form of *reteros, based on re- "back" (see re-).

L. retro stands to re- as intro, "in, within"; to in, "in," and as citro, "hither," stands to cis, "on this side." [Klein]
Common in combinations in post-classical Latin (the classical equivalent was post-). Active in English as a word-forming element from mid-20c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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retro- in Medicine

retro- pref.

  1. Backward; back: retroposition.

  2. Situated behind: retroperitoneum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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