Are they synonyms for looking back on the past that have separate contextual applications or do their meanings differ?

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    You can look up their meanings in one or more online dictionaries. It might be interesting to hear about your conclusions. – Mari-Lou A Nov 20 '18 at 8:22

"Retrospect" quite literally means "look back" in Latin and retains it's meaning in English.

According to Marriam-Webster, hindsight (noun) is

perception of the nature of an event after it has happened In hindsight, it's clear there were alternatives. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.

while retrospective (noun) is

1a(1) : of, relating to, or given to retrospection

(2) : based on memory a retrospective report

b : being a retrospective a retrospective exhibition

2 : affecting things past : retroactive retrospective laws

3 : relating to or being a study (as of a disease) that starts with the present condition of a population of individuals and collects data about their past history to explain their present condition

where retrospection (noun) is

the act or process or an instance of surveying the past

Retrospection can have a more complex meaning compared to hindsight.

You might say

In hindsight, I shouldn't have eaten the cake.


Retrospectively I shouldn't have eaten the cake.

Hope this helps.

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