early 15c., retardacion, "fact or action of delaying or making slower in movement or time," from Latin retardationem (nominative retardatio) "a delaying," noun of action from past participle stem of retardare "to make slow, delay, keep back, hinder," from re- "back" (see re-) + tardare "to slow," related to tardus "slow, sluggish" (see tardy).
The psychological sense of "educational slowness, educational progress slower than average for a group" is from 1907, perhaps a back-formation from retarded. For the meaning "act of retarding," retardment also was used (1640s).
Entries linking to retardation
word-forming element meaning "back, back from, back to the original place;" also "again, anew, once more," also conveying the notion of "undoing" or "backward," etc. (see sense evolution below), c. 1200, from Old French re- and directly from Latin re- an inseparable prefix meaning "again; back; anew, against."
Watkins (2000) describes this as a "Latin combining form conceivably from Indo-European *wret-, metathetical variant of *wert- "to turn." De Vaan says the "only acceptable etymology" for it is a 2004 explanation which reconstructs a root in PIE *ure "back."
In earliest Latin the prefix became red- before vowels and h-, a form preserved in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant, redintegrate, and, in disguise, render (v.). In some English words from French and Italian re- appears as ra- and the following consonant is often doubled (see rally (v.1)).
The many meanings in the notion of "back" give re- its broad sense-range: "a turning back; opposition; restoration to a former state; "transition to an opposite state." From the extended senses in "again," re- becomes "repetition of an action," and in this sense it is extremely common as a formative element in English, applicable to any verb. OED writes that it is "impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use," and adds that "The number of these is practically infinite ...."
Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is forgotten, lost in secondary senses, or weakened beyond recognition, so that it has no apparent semantic content (receive, recommend, recover, reduce, recreate, refer, religion, remain, request, require). There seem to have been more such words in Middle English than after, e.g. recomfort (v.) "to comfort, console; encourage;" recourse (n.) "a process, way, course." Recover in Middle English also could mean "obtain, win" (happiness, a kingdom, etc.) with no notion of getting something back, also "gain the upper hand, overcome; arrive at;" also consider the legal sense of recovery as "obtain (property) by judgment or legal proceedings."
And, due to sound changes and accent shifts, re- sometimes entirely loses its identity as a prefix (rebel, relic, remnant, restive, rest (n.2) "remainder," rally (v.1) "bring together"). In a few words it is reduced to r-, as in ransom (a doublet of redemption), rampart, etc.
Prefixed to a word beginning with e, re- is separated by a hyphen, as re-establish, re-estate, re-edify, etc. ; or else the second e has a dieresis over it: as, reëstablish, reëmbark, etc. The hyphen is also sometimes used to bring out emphatically the sense of repetition or iteration : as, sung and re-sung. The dieresis is not used over other vowels than e when re is prefixed : thus, reinforce, reunite, reabolish. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
1520s, "slow," from Old French tardif "slow, late" (12c.), also the name of the snail character in the Roman de Renart, from Vulgar Latin *tardivus, from Latin tardus "slow, sluggish; late; dull, stupid," of unknown origin. Meaning "late" in English is from 1660s.
This word, not much used in English prose, is constantly employed in the U.S. and in Canada with reference to lateness in school-attendance. [Thornton, "American Glossary," 1912]
Related: Tardily; tardiness. Earlier form of the word in English was tardif, tardyve (late 15c.). Tardity "slowness of movement or action" is recorded in English from early 15c., from Old French tardete, from Latin tarditas.