Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
To disavow or take back. This may include: 1) withdrawing a confession or legal document in a lawsuit or other proceeding; 2) withdrawing a promise or offer of contract; or 3) correcting any untruth published or broadcast in the media, usually upon the demand of the person about whom the damaging false statement was made. A clear and complete retraction will usually end the right of the defamed party to go forward with a libel lawsuit. In most states the plaintiff must request a retraction before filing suit, in order to give the defendant a chance to cure the problem without litigation.