Etymology
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retreat (n.)

c. 1300, retrete, "a step backward;" late 14c., "act of retiring or withdrawing; military signal for retiring from action or exercise," from Old French retret, retrait, noun use of past participle of retrere "draw back," from Latin retrahere "draw back, withdraw, call back," from re- "back" (see re-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)).

Meaning "place of seclusion" is from early 15c.; sense of "establishment for mentally ill persons" is from 1797. Meaning "period of retirement for religious self-examination" is from 1756.

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retreat (v.)

early 15c., retreten, "to draw in, draw back, leave the extremities," also "to fall back from battle;" from retreat (n.) and in part from Old French retret, retrait, past participle of retrere "to draw back." Related: Retreated; retreating.

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recoil (n.)

c. 1300, "a retreat, a drawing back" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French recul "recoil, backward movement, retreat," from reculer (see recoil (v.)). Meaning "back-kick of a firearm or piece of ordnance when discharged" is from 1570s.

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back off (v.)

"retreat, stop annoying someone," by 1938, from the verbal phrase, from back (v.) + off (adv.).

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bug (v.3)

"to scram, skedaddle," 1953, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to bug (v.2), and compare bug off. Bug out (n.) "precipitous retreat" (1951) is from the Korean War.

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redoubt (n.)

also redout, "small, enclosed military work," c. 1600, from French redoute (17c.), from Italian ridotto, earlier ridotta, "place of retreat," from Medieval Latin reductus "place of refuge, retreat," noun use of past participle of reducere "to lead or bring back" (see reduce). The unetymological -b- was added by influence of unrelated and now obsolete English verb redoubt "to dread, fear" (see redoubtable). As an adjective, Latin reductus meant "withdrawn, retired; remote, distant."

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recoil (v.)

c. 1200, recoilen, transitive, "force back, drive back, beat back" (senses now archaic or obsolete); c. 1300, intransitive, "shrink back, retreat," from Old French reculer "to go back, give way, recede, retreat" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *reculare, from Latin re- "back" (see re-) + culus "backside, bottom, fundament" (see tutu). The sense of "spring back" (as a firearm when discharged) is attested from 1520s. Related: Recoiled; recoiling.

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backing (n.)

1590s, "support at the back;" 1640s, "retreat;" verbal noun from back (v.). The physical sense of "anything placed at or attached to the back of something else" is from 1793. The meaning "musical accompaniment" is recorded from 1937.

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fallback 

also fall-back, as a noun, "a reserve," 1851, from verbal phrase, from fall (v.) + back (adv.), which is attested in the sense of "retreat" from c. 1600. As an adjective, from 1767 as a type of chair; 1930 as "that may be used in an emergency."

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lame duck (n.)

1761, "any disabled person or thing;" especially Stock Exchange slang for "defaulter."

A lame duck is a man who cannot pay his differences, and is said to waddle off. [Thomas Love Peacock, "Gryll Grange," 1861]

Sometimes also in naval use for "an old, slow ship." Modern sense of "public official serving out term after an election" is recorded by 1863, American English. The quote attributed to President Lincoln ("[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for") is from an anecdote of 1878.

It is well known to everybody who knows anything of its history, that this court [Court of Claims] was made a sort of retreat for lame duck politicians that got wounded and had to retreat before the face of popular condemnation. That is just exactly what it was for, a safe retreat for lame ducks; and it was so filled up; (etc.) [Sen. John P. Hale, New Hampshire, Congressional Globe, Jan. 12, 1863, p.271]
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