Etymology 1Edit

Probably partly from both of the following:[1]


retrenchment (countable and uncountable, plural retrenchments)

  1. A curtailment or reduction.
    Synonyms: cutting down, diminution, lessening
    • 1960 February, R. C. Riley, “The London–Birmingham services – Past, Present and Future”, in Trains Illustrated, London: Ian Allan Publishing, ISSN 0141-9935, OCLC 35845948, page 98:
      Last year it was announced that electrification of L.M.R. main lines was to be speeded up and that it would be essential for the engineers to have the longest possible occupation of the lines involved; this would mean some retrenchment of passenger train services.
    • 2018 October 28, “The Observer view on the budget and the decade of austerity”, in The Observer[1], London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0029-7712, OCLC 757609252, archived from the original on 19 October 2019:
      And the retrenchment of services such as mental health and drug rehabilitation means that vulnerable people are more likely to find themselves on the street.
    1. (specifically) An act of reducing expenses; economizing.
      Synonym: cutback
      • 1864 July, T[imothy] S[hay] Arthur, “My Father”, in Arthur’s Home Magazine, volume XXIV, Philadelphia, Pa.: T. S. Arthur & Sons, OCLC 7405688, pages 23–24:
        From this time, the hand which had ever been ready to supply all our wants real or imaginary, opened less promptly at our demands. My father talked occasionally of retrenchment and economy when some of our extravagant bills came in; but we paid little heed to his remarks on this head. Where could we retrench? In what could we economize? The very idea was absurd.
    2. (specifically) An act of terminating the employment of a worker or making an employee redundant, often to reduce expenses; a layoff.
Usage notesEdit

Sense 1.2 (“act of terminating the employment of a worker”) is common in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa, but uncommon in Britain and the United States.[1]


Etymology 2Edit

Probably either from:[2]


retrenchment (plural retrenchments)

  1. (military, dated) A defensive work constructed within a fortification to make it more defensible by allowing defenders to retreat into and fight from it even after the enemy has taken the outer work.
    • 1712, H[enry] Curzon, “Of Fortification”, in The Universal Library: Or, Compleat Summary of Science. [] , volume II, London: [] George Sawbridge, [], OCLC 642343210, page 243:
      The Half-Moon is a Work always raiſed before the Baſtion's Point, being ſo named from the Lowneſs of its Gorges Cavity, &c. and is to ſecure the Two Faces of the Baſtion; but when the Faces have but a weak Defence from the Ravelin, theſe Works are ſoon made uſeleſs or ruined, and give the Beſieged an opportunity of Lodgment, and may ſerve for Batteries and Flanks againſt the oppoſing Baſtions; however they may be retrenched by Traverſes, yet they will not fail to attack entirely in the Face, or where you have your laſt Retrenchment, alſo that called the Counterguard runs the like Hazard.
    • 1747, John Muller [i.e., John Müller], “Part II. Of the Defence.”, in The Attack and Defence of Fortify’d Places. [], London: [] J. Millan, [], OCLC 990827509, page 186:
      [I]f there is one Retrenchment in a Work, it is generally thought ſufficient; but it happens much oftener than there is none at all; ſo that one might be apt to think, a Defence like that we have been explaining is only chimerical, if the Sieges of Vienna and Candy, both by the Turks, were not inſtances of the contrary, where there was hardly an inch of Ground either within or without thoſe two Towns, as far as the Extremities of the Glacis, and even beyond them, but what was retrenched and countermined.
    • 1778, [Robert Orme], “Book VIII. [The War of Coromandel.]”, in A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan, from the Year MDCCXLV. [], volume II, 1st section, London: [] John Nourse, [], OCLC 1051490067:
      The gate-way of the north ſide, from whence the garriſon got their water, was near the n. w. angle, and about 80 yards from the river; on the ſide of which, oppoſite to the gate, they threw up a retrenchment, in which they kept a guard to protect the water-carriers.



  1. 1.0 1.1 retrenchment, n.2”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2010; “retrenchment, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ retrenchment, n.1”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2010.

Further readingEdit