Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Paul Spalding-Mulcock
Features Writer
1:00 AM 30th September 2023

Word Of The Week : Retrograde

Retrograde adjective

Turning back to the Latin word retrogradi, meaning to walk backwards, we discover the roots of our modern word, 'Retrograde'. From this literal reversal of our normative bipedal gait, excepting the dictates of The Ministry Of Silly Walks, our modern word riffs on myriad conjoined connotations.

Its primary meaning is to move or bend backwards, especially in a reverse or inverse fashion. From this we flow to the notion of tending towards an earlier worse condition, itself implying a deleterious decline in the status quo as a consequence of undesired deterioration.

Image by Petra from Pixabay
Image by Petra from Pixabay
Biologically, retrograde denotes inimical physiological circumstances resulting in degenerative processes causing systemic failure. It can also be used to describe the blood flow in veins with incompetent valves leading to a reversal in the direction of healthy blood flow.
Astronomical boffins use the term to describe a celestial body orbiting in an opposite direction to that of the earth’s motion around the sun.

Musicologists and musicians apply the term to any melody, or refrain that is played backwards as compared to the melodic motifs generally employed. This polysemic word even sees the US Military utilise the word to mean 'retreat'.

It’s pejorative archaic meaning referred to the notion of opposing, or being contrary to, usually in a repugnant fashion. Summarising ut supra, simply bring to mind Suella Braverman’s idolatry of Enoch Powell and his infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech…repulsively retrograde in every sense!