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[re-truh-spek-tiv] /ˌrɛ trəˈspɛk tɪv/
directed to the past; contemplative of past situations, events, etc.
looking or directed backward.
retroactive, as a statute.
an art exhibit showing an entire phase or representative examples of an artist's lifework.
any exhibition or series of showings or performances, as of musical works or motion pictures, representing the work of an artist or performer over all or a major part of a career:
a retrospective of John Ford's movies.
Origin of retrospective
1655-65; retrospect + -ive
Related forms
retrospectively, adverb
retrospectiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for retrospective
  • Not less important-and for retrospective reasons too-is the complicated verse-form.
  • retrospective studies of different populations could not control for differences in wealth and culture.
  • Otherwise we'll only be able to validate model results in retrospective, if that capability still exists in society.
  • Teenage pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes: a large population based retrospective cohort study.
  • The studies touted to vindicate vaccines are retrospective.
  • At the end of the school year, during graduation ceremonies, her photo popped up in a slide show retrospective.
  • Unfortunately for critics, publishers have provided fresh fodder for book reviews and retrospective essays.
  • Second, the million-dollar statistic is retrospective.
  • The photographer would not have been pleased by this new retrospective.
  • Follow-up studies now in the planning stage are expected to use prospective as well as retrospective data.
British Dictionary definitions for retrospective


looking or directed backwards, esp in time; characterized by retrospection
applying to the past; retroactive
an exhibition of an artist's life's work or a representative selection of it
Derived Forms
retrospectively, adverb
retrospectiveness, noun
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 retrospective

1660s, from retrospect + -ive. As a noun, from 1964, short for retrospective exhibition (1908), etc. Related: Retrospectively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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