What is the correct verb to say when a sports team decides to not take part in the running season: withdraw or retire? Is there a difference between withdrawal and retirement of teams in the sports context?

Update: The regarding sport is handball. Sometimes during the season, teams break up or lose players because of injuries or when many players leave a team. The context is not a single game, but over the time of a season.

  • This depends entirely on the specific sport and the context. Aug 24, 2019 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


In American English, I think withdraw would be more appropriate. From Merriam-Webster:

2.a to remove oneself from participation

Retire isn't usually used to refer to a team, it's usually used by individual players, and implies that they're stopping participation permanently. Definition:

3 to withdraw from one's position or occupation : conclude one's working or professional career

  • 1
    In British English it's fairly normal to talk about a player retiring from a game. Wimbledon seems to use it a lot. Aug 23, 2019 at 23:43
  • Thanks, I've added a clarification that this is American English.
    – Barmar
    Aug 23, 2019 at 23:46
  • @DJClayworth Not just Wimbledon, but tennis in general. (American and British.) It has nothing to do with permanence. A player who retires from a tennis match is a player who withdraws from the match due to injury. It's not unusual to have at least one (if not more) retirements in any given tennis tournament. A player who retires from the sport is something different. Aug 24, 2019 at 21:08
  • @JasonBassford That makes sense, I expect America got most of its tennis jargon from England.
    – Barmar
    Aug 24, 2019 at 21:38

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