verb (used with object)

  1. to cut down, reduce, or diminish; curtail (expenses).
  2. to cut off or remove.
  3. Military. to protect by a retrenchment.

verb (used without object)

  1. to economize; reduce expenses: They retrenched by eliminating half of the workers.


  1. to reduce or curtail (costs); economize
  2. (tr) to shorten, delete, or abridge
  3. (tr) to protect by a retrenchment

1590s, “dig a new trench as a second line of defense,” 1590s, probably a back-formation from retrenchment in the military sense. Related: Retrenched; retrenching.


“cut off, cut down, pare away” (expenses, etc.), 1620s, from obsolete French retrencher “to cut off, lessen, shorten” (Modern French retrancher, Old French retrenchier), from re- “back” (see re-) + Old French trenchier “to cut” (see trench). Related: Retrenched; retrenching.

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