From Middle English retten, reten; perhaps from Middle Dutch rēten, reeten (compare Middle Low German rōten; Middle High German rōzen), or from Old Norse reyta (compare Norwegian røyta, Swedish röta); all from Proto-Germanic *rautijaną (“to make mellow or soft”), from Proto-Indo-European *rewd- (“to tear; rend; rip”). Related to rot.
ret (third-person singular simple present rets, present participle retting, simple past and past participle retted)
- (transitive) To prepare (flax, hemp etc.) for further processing by soaking, which facilitates separation of fibers from the woody parts of the stem.