Etymology
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retro (adj.)

1974, from French rétro (1973), supposedly first used of a revival c. 1968 of Eva Peron-inspired fashions and short for rétrograde (see retrograde). There is an isolated use in English from 1768, and the word apparently was used in 19c. French as a term in billiards. As a noun, short for retro-rocket (1948) from 1961.

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retro-rocket (n.)

1945, "anti-submarine weapon fired backward from an airplane at the same velocity as the plane" (so it falls straight down), from retro- + rocket (n.). By 1957 as an auxiliary rocket on a spacecraft to thrust forward and oppose the forward motion.

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retrocopulation (n.)

"copulation backward," of various quadrupeds the male of which faces in the opposite direction from the female during the act, 1640s, from retro- + copulation. Related: Retrocopulate (v.).

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retro- 

word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "backwards; behind," from Latin retro (prep.) "backward, back, behind," usually in reference to place or position, rarely of time, "formerly, in the past," 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.

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retrospection (n.)

1630s, "action of looking back," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin retrospicere "look back," from retro "back" (see retro-) + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Specifically "act of looking back on times past" (1729).

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retrofit (v.)

"modify so as to incorporate changes made in later versions of the same model," 1954 (U.S. Air Force), from retro- + fit (v.). Related: Retrofitted; retrofitting. As a noun, "modification made to a product," 1956, from the verb.

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dernier (adj.)

"last, final," c. 1600, from French dernier, which is formed as if from Medieval Latin *deretranacius, from de "down" (see de-) + Latin retro "back" (see retro-).

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retrospect (n.)

c. 1600, "a regard or reference" (to something), from Latin retrospectum, past participle of retrospicere "look back," from retro "back" (see retro-) + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Meaning "survey of past events" is from 1660s.

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retroactive (adj.)

of powers, enactments, etc., "operating with respect to past circumstances, extending to matters which have occurred, holding good for preceding eases," from French rétroactif (16c.) "casting or relating back," from Latin retroact-, past-participle stem of retroagere "drive or turn back," from retro "back" (see retro-) + agere "to drive, set in motion" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Related: Retroactively; retroactivity.

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retrovirus (n.)

1977, earlier retravirus (1974), from re(verse) tra(nscriptase) + connective -o- + virus. So called because it contains reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that uses RNA instead of DNA to encode genetic information, which reverses the usual pattern. Remodeled by influence of retro- "backwards."

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