Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Are "recant" and "retract" interchangeable?

RECANT is likely to indicate rejection of a previously adhered-to belief or position accompanied by admission of error and acceptance of a sanctioned belief

  • Shostakovich, as our newspapers have told us, has suffered from official criticism and been forced to recant and rewrite -- W. C. Huntington
  • if Christians recanted they were to be spared, but if they persisted in their faith they were to be executed -- K. S. Latourette

RETRACT indicates a withdrawing or calling back, often of a statement or implication to someone's discredit

  • give the present writer an opportunity of retracting criticism from his own pen which he now feels to have been unjust -- Richard Garnett
  • they ... retract what they have said, and say publicly that they were mistaken -- Rose Macaulay

from alt.usage.english

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