Meaning of RETURN in English


I. re ‧ turn 1 S2 W1 /rɪˈtɜːn $ -ɜːrn/ BrE AmE verb

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: retourner , from tourner 'to turn' ]

1 . GO BACK [intransitive] to go or come back to a place where you were before SYN go back , come back :

It was forty five minutes before she returned.

return to

Are you planning to return to Spain?

return from

I have just returned from five months in Zimbabwe.

Alison decided to return home.

He left his country, never to return.


In everyday English, people usually say come back (=return to the place where the speaker is) or go back (=return to a different place from where the speaker is), rather than return :

It was forty five minutes before she came back.

Are you planning to go back to Spain?

2 . GIVE BACK [transitive] to give or send something back, or to put something back in its place SYN give back , put back

return something to something/somebody

Carson returned the notebook to his pocket.

I returned the books to the library unread.

Please complete the enclosed application form and return it in the envelope attached.


In everyday English, people usually say that they take something back , put it back , or bring it back , rather than return it:

He put the key back in his pocket.

Did you take the books back to the library?

3 . FEELING/SITUATION [intransitive] if a feeling, situation etc returns, it starts to exist or happen again SYN come back :

If the pain returns, take two of the tablets with some water.

David could feel his anger returning.

return to

when peace finally returns to this country


In everyday English, people usually say that a feeling comes back rather than returns :

I’m worried that the pain will come back.

4 . DO THE SAME [transitive] to do something to someone because they have done the same thing to you:

He smiled at her warmly and she returned his smile.

I phoned him twice on Friday and left messages, but he never returned my call (=he didn’t phone me) .

Thanks very much. I’ll return the favour (=do something to help you) some day.

The police did not return fire (=shoot back at someone who shot at them) .

5 . ANSWER [transitive] written to answer someone:

‘Yes,’ he returned. ‘I’m a lucky man.’

6 . BALL [transitive] to hit the ball back to your opponent in a game such as tennis

7 . ELECT [transitive usually passive] British English to elect someone to a political position, especially to represent you in parliament

return somebody to something

Yeo was returned to Parliament with an increased majority.

return somebody as something

At the election, she was returned as MP for Brighton.

8 . return a verdict when a ↑ jury return their ↑ verdict , they say whether someone is guilty or not

9 . PROFIT [transitive] to make a profit:

The group returned increased profits last year.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 4)

■ nouns

▪ return sb’s call (=phone someone who phoned you)

I left a message but he hasn't returned my call.

▪ return sb’s gaze/stare

She kept her eyes fixed on the floor, refusing to return his gaze.

▪ return sb’s smile

Mark returned her smile.

▪ return sb’s love/feelings (=love someone who loves you)

Sadly, she could never return his love.

▪ return the favour (=help someone who helped you)

Thanks a lot. I hope I'll be able to return the favour.

▪ return fire (=shoot back at someone)

One plane opened fire on the American aircraft, which immediately returned fire.

• • •


▪ return to go back or come back to a place where you were before. Return sounds more formal than go back or come back , and is more commonly used in written English:

She returned to the hotel hoping to find a message.


Alastair returned from the office late that night.


On Friday, I returned home around six o'clock.

▪ go back to go to the place where you were before, or to the place where you usually live:

It’s cold out here – shall we go back inside?


When are you going back to Japan?

▪ go home to go to your home again, or to the country where you were born, after you have been away from it:

I did a bit of shopping and then went home.


Are you going home to Hong Kong when the course finishes?

▪ come back to come to the place where you are again, after going away from it:

I’ll be away for two days – coming back on Thursday night.


He’s just come back from a vacation in Miami.

▪ get back to arrive somewhere where you were before, especially your home or the place where you are staying:

We got back at about 9 o'clock.


She couldn’t wait to get back to London.

▪ turn back to turn around and go back in the direction you came from:

We took the wrong road and had to turn back.


He ordered the soldiers to turn back and march south.

return to something phrasal verb

1 . to change back to a previous state or situation, or to change something back:

David waited for a moment to let his breathing return to normal.

return something to something

The new chairman made the cuts necessary to return the company to profitability.

2 . to start doing an activity, job etc that you were doing before you stopped or were interrupted SYN go back :

Nicholas looked up, grinned, then returned to his newspaper.

The children return to school next week.

Ellie needed to return to work soon after the birth.

3 . formal to start discussing or dealing with a subject that you have already mentioned:

I will return to this problem in a moment.

II. return 2 S2 W2 BrE AmE noun

1 . COMING BACK [singular] the act of returning from somewhere, or your arrival back in a place:

We’re all looking forward to your return!

return from

I need to know the date of her return from Europe.

return to

Malcolm decided to delay his return to York.

on/upon sb’s return

On his return from Canada, he joined the army.

2 . GIVING BACK [singular] the act of giving, putting, or sending something back

return of

A mother is appealing for the safe return of her baby son.

Police have arranged for the return of the stolen goods.

3 . CHANGING BACK [singular] a change back to a previous state or situation

return to

The United States called for a return to democracy.

a return to normal

4 . STARTING AGAIN [singular] when someone starts an activity again after they had stopped

return to

Rose’s return to the teaching profession

Jean is well enough now to consider her return to work.

5 . PROFIT [uncountable and countable] the amount of profit that you get from something:

The markets are showing extremely poor returns.

return on

How can you get the best return on your investment?

return from

The returns from farming are declining.

The average rates of return were 15%.

6 . in return (for something) as payment or reward for something:

He is always helping people without expecting anything in return.

We offer an excellent all-round education to our students. In return, we expect students to work hard.

Liz agreed to look after the baby in return for a free room.

7 . FEELING/SITUATION [singular] when a feeling, situation etc starts to exist or happen again

return of

She felt a return of her old anxiety.

David had noticed the return of worrying symptoms in the last few days.

8 . COMPUTER [uncountable] the key that you press on a computer at the end of an instruction or to move to a new line SYN enter :

Key in the file name and press return.

9 . STATEMENT [countable] a statement giving written information in reply to official questions:

an analysis of the 1851 census returns

⇨ ↑ tax return

10 . VOTE [countable] technical a vote in an election:

What are the returns from last night’s voting?

11 . by return (of post) British English if you reply to a letter by return, you send your reply almost immediately

12 . TICKET [countable] British English a ticket for a journey from one place to another and back again OPP single SYN round trip American English ⇨ DAY RETURN,

⇨ the point of no return at ↑ point 1 (10)

• • •


▪ profit money that you gain by selling things or doing business, after your costs have been paid:

Our profits are down this year.


The big oil companies have made enormous profits following the rise in oil prices.

▪ earnings the profit that a company makes:

The company said it expected fourth-quarter earnings to be lower than last year’s results.


Pre-tax earnings have grown from $6.3 million to $9.4 million.

▪ return the profit that you get from an investment:

You should get a good return on your investment.


We didn’t get much of a return on our money.


They’re promising high returns on investments of over $100,000.

▪ turnover the amount of business done during a particular period:

The illicit drugs industry has an annual turnover of some £200 bn.

▪ takings the money that a business, shop etc gets from selling its goods in a day, week, month etc:

He counted the night’s takings.


This week’s takings are up on last week’s.

▪ interest money paid to you by a bank or other financial institution when you keep money in an account there:

They are offering a high rate of interest on deposits of over £3000.


The money is still earning interest in your account.

▪ dividend a part of a company’s profit that is divided among the people who have shares in the company:

Shareholders will receive a dividend of 10p for each share.


The company said it will pay shareholders a final dividend of 700 cents a share.

III. return 3 BrE AmE adjective [only before noun]

used or paid for a journey from one place to another and back again ⇨ single SYN round trip American English :

a return ticket

a return fare

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.