Meaning of “return” in the English Dictionary

"return" in English

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uk /rɪˈtɜːn/ us /rɪˈtɝːn/

return verb (GO BACK)

A2 [ I ] to come or go back to a previous place:

Odysseus returned home/returned to his home after many years of travelling.
She left South Africa at the age of 15 and has never returned.
[ + to infinitive ] David returned (from work) to find his house had burned down.
return to sth/to doing sth

C1 If people or things return to a previous condition, they go back to that condition:

Within a week, the situation had returned to normal.

B2 If you return to an activity or subject, you start doing it or talking about it again:

Gandhi urged Indians to return to spinning their own yarn.
Every five minutes, he returned to the same subject.

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return verb (EXCHANGE)

C1 [ T ] to give, do, or get something after something similar has been given or done to you:

to return an invitation/greeting
I returned his stare.
I gave her a ride when her car broke down and now she is returning the favour (= doing something to help me in exchange).
The terrorists started shooting and the police returned fire (= started shooting back).

to give a particular amount of profit:

My investments return a high rate of interest.

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return verb (PUT BACK)

A2 [ T ] to send, take, give, put, etc. something back to where it came from:

The new TV broke so they returned it to the shop.
He returned two books he had borrowed from me in 2003.
She carefully returned the book to its place on the shelf.

[ T ] in sports such as tennis, to hit the ball back to your opponent

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return verb (HAPPEN AGAIN)

B2 [ I ] to happen again:

You must go to the doctor if the pain returns.

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adjective uk /rɪˈtɜː.nə.bəl/ us /rɪˈtɝː.nə.bəl/

a returnable bottle


uk /rɪˈtɜːn/ us /rɪˈtɝːn/

return noun (GOING BACK)

B1 [ S ] an occasion when someone goes or comes back to a place where they were before:

The whole town came out to celebrate his return (from the war).
On her return, she went straight to the office.

[ S ] an occasion when you start to do or have something again:

Some environmentalists argue for a return to a pre-industrial society.
Most people have welcomed her return to power/office.

B1 [ C ] UK also return ticket, US round-trip ticket a ticket for travel to a place and back again:

A return to Birmingham, please.
See also

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return noun (EXCHANGE)

in return

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B2 in exchange:

Some tenants get rent reductions in return for help managing the building.
I'll come with you, but you have to do something for me in return.

[ C or U ] the act of giving, doing, or receiving something in exchange for something:

Several soldiers were wounded in the return of fire.

[ C or U ] the profit that you get from an investment:

The return on the money we invested was very low.

return noun (HAPPENING AGAIN)

[ S ] an occasion when something starts to happen or be used again:

Will we ever see the return of/a return to comfortable fashion clothes?

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return noun (GIVING BACK)

C1 [ S ] the act of giving, putting, or sending something back:

the return of the stolen goods

[ C ] the act of hitting the ball back to your opponent in sports such as tennis:

Chang's return of serve was powerful.
returns [ plural ]

goods that have been taken back to the shop where they were bought by customers because they are damaged or unsuitable

US the votes that are returned, or the results of the voting, in an election:

by return (of post) UK

in the first post collection that leaves after you receive a letter:

She answered my letter by return.

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returnadjective [ before noun ]

uk /rɪˈtɜːn/ us /rɪˈtɝːn/

(Definition of “return” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"return" in American English

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us /rɪˈtɜrn/

return verb (GO BACK)

[ I ] to come or go back to a previous place, subject, activity, or condition:

He returned to New York last week.
He worked at other jobs but kept returning to mining.
She was returning home from a business trip when the plane crashed.

return verb (PUT BACK)

[ T ] to put, send, or give something back to where it came from:

Emily returned the blouse because it didn’t fit.

return verb (EXCHANGE)

[ T ] to give, do, or get something in exchange:

She just doesn’t return phone calls.

return verb (DECIDE)

[ T ] fml to decide on something such as a judgment or decision:

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

returnadjective [ not gradable ]

us /rɪˈtɜrn/

return adjective [ not gradable ] (GOING BACK)

helping something to go or be sent back to where it came from:

return postage

A return address is the address from which a letter is being sent.

(Definition of “return” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"return" in Business English

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uk /rɪˈtɜːn/ us

[ T ] ACCOUNTING, FINANCE if a business or an investment returns an amount of money, it produces a profit:

Last year all 60 branches of the business returned a profit.
The account is low-risk but returns just 0.5% interest.

[ T ] COMMERCE to take or send a product back to the company that sold it to you. You usually do this if you want them to replace the product or to give you back your money:

Customers who return goods must present a receipt to get cash or credit.

[ T ] to give back money that will not be used or that should not have been paid:

If the sale does not go through, the agent is obliged by law to return the deposit.
The department will return any overpayment or set it against your next tax bill.

[ T ] to phone someone who has called you earlier:

I left several messages on his answer-phone, but he never returned my call.
He did not return the multiple messages left on his cell phone.

[ I ] to go back to an earlier situation or to start doing something again:

return to sth The refinery may not return to full production until later in the summer.
Most women return to work at the end of their maternity leave.
return to growth/profit The business is expected to return to growth next year.
return a cheque

BANKING to send a cheque back to the person who wrote it, usually because they do not have enough money in the bank to pay the whole amount:

The bank returned our cheque for lack of funds.
return a verdict

LAW to give an official opinion in a court of law about whether someone is guilty of a crime:

The jury returned a verdict of 'not guilty.'


uk /rɪˈtɜːn/ us

[ C or U ] ACCOUNTING, FINANCE the amount of profit made by an investment or a business activity:

The program guarantees lenders a return of 10% interest.
A fixed-rate investment will give you below-average returns.
return on sth We need to monitor our return on advertising.
make/see a return (on sth) They need to charge prices of over $20 a barrel in order to make a return.
If the market improves, we can make a return of $10,000 on our investment.
a positive/negative return
a good/high return I want an investment which offers a good return.
a low/modest return
produce/offer/yield a return

[ C or U ] COMMERCE a product that is returned to a company because the buyer is not satisfied with it, or the act of returning products to a company:

An error in the manufacturing process led to hundreds of returns from dissatisfied customers.
Check that there is a return policy in case there is a problem with the goods that you buy.

[ C ] also tax return TAX an official document with details of your income that you send to the government tax department each year so that income tax can be calculated:

It is possible to file your return online.
When you have submitted your return, the Revenue promises you instant acknowledgement of its receipt.
complete/do your return

[ C or U ] a situation in which someone or something goes back to an earlier position or activity:

a return to profit/growth/stability
The last year has seen a return to normal in the banking sector.

[ U ] also return key IT the key on a computer keyboard that you press to give an instruction, or to start a new line in a document:

Type in your name and then press return.
See also

UK also return ticket TRANSPORT a ticket for a journey to a place and back again:

return to somewhere I need a return to Kings Cross Station.
by return (of post)

COMMUNICATIONS using the next available mail collection to reply:

We received an invoice by return of post.
An answer by return would be appreciated.


uk /rɪˈtɜːn/ us

UK TRANSPORT relating to a journey to a particular place and back again:

a return journey/ticket/fare

(Definition of “return” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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