The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is retrospective. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.
What It Means
Retrospective means “of or relating to the past or something that happened in the past.”
// Though mostly pleased with her final grades at the end of the semester, she undertook a retrospective analysis of her work from the previous months.
RETROSPECTIVE in Context
“Despite the relative darkness of Hearts Aglow, [singer Natalie] Mering fondly recalls certain experiences from its genesis. ‘It was a good time to fall in love,’ she says, recalling those early pandemic days of binging TV, baking bread, and taking long walks and scenic drives through empty streets. As soon as she makes this point, however, Mering is quick to note it was also a time of anxiety and how she wishes she could have enjoyed those days more. It’s a kind of retrospective wisdom that comes up frequently in her songwriting and in conversation: a generous quality that can sometimes make her seem older than her years.” — Sam Sodomsky, Pitchfork, 16 Nov. 2022
Did You Know?
At the end of the year, both introspection and retrospection are common. While introspection involves looking inward and taking stock of oneself, retrospection is all about recollecting and contemplating things that happened in the past. A look back at the history of the related adjective retrospective reveals that it retains a strong connection to its past; its Latin source is retrospicere, meaning “to look back at.” Retrospective can also be used as a noun referring to an exhibition that “looks back” at an artist’s work created over a span of years. Once you have retrospective and retrospection behind you, you can also add their kin retrospect and retro to your vocabulary, too.
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