Retrospect vs introspect

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Retrospect and introspect are two words that many people find confusing. We will examine the definitions of retrospect and introspect, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Retrospect is a survey of the past, a looking back in order to evaluate past events and put them in perspective. The word retrospect is almost always used with the preposition in, as in retrospect. Usually when looking at something in retrospect, one sees how a situation could have been handled differently or that another path could have been taken. The word retrospect is derived from the Latin word retrospectum, meaning to look back.

Introspect means to look inward in order to evaluate one’s feelings or thoughts, to contemplate one’s inner self. Introspect is a verb, but it is very seldom used. The noun form, introspection, is much more common. The word introspect is derived from the Latin word  introspectus which means to look inward, with attention.


Melvin noted that Lewinsky had taken responsibility for her part, and he asked Clinton whether, in retrospect, he takes more responsibility. (The Norwich Bulletin)

In retrospect, it makes sense that his follow-up to that book and the fame it brought was a travel show. (Condé Nast Traveler)

“I have taken 10 days of time for this practice with the aim to introspect, reset goals and to motivate myself for future endeavours,” Mr. Sheik says. (The Hindu)

For the Scotland- born, naturalised Indian citizen, who has been living in Mussoorie since the 1960s, it was a time of quiet introspection at his heritage home ‘Oakless’. (The Times of India)

The new album addresses many of the controversies of West’s past few years, mainly his mental breakdown and his recent burst of pro-Trump support, with West refusing to apologize, seeing little value in introspection and declaring on Yikes that his bipolar disorder is “my superpower — ain’t no disability.” (USA Today)