Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Oct 12 2007 • 2 mins

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 12, 2007 is: retrospective • \reh-truh-SPEK-tiv\  • adjective 1 a : contemplative of or relative to past events b : being a generally comprehensive exhibition, compilation, or performance of the work of an artist over a span of years 2 : affecting things past : retroactive Examples: Carla's next film will be a retrospective documentary about her favorite sculptor's work. Did you know? "Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again," wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1839 novel Hyperion. But these days the past is trendy, old-fashioned is hip, and "flea-market vogue" is not an oxymoron. And of course, "retrospective" is as retro as it gets. A glance at the history of "retrospective" reveals that it traces back to the Latin "retro-" (meaning "back," "behind," or "backward") and "specere" (meaning "to look at"). Once you have "retrospective" behind you, you can also add its kin "retrospect" (which is used as a noun, an adjective, and a verb) and "retrospection" to your vocabulary, too. "Retrospective" can also be used as a noun, referring to an exhibition that "looks back" at artistic work created over a span of years. *Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence. See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at