early 14c., "to come back, come or go back to a former position" (intransitive), from Old French retorner "turn back, turn round, return" (Modern French retourner), from re- "back" (see re-) + torner "to turn" (see turn (v.)). Transitive sense of "report officially" is early 15c.; "to send back" is mid-15c.; that of "to turn back" is from c.1500. Meaning "to give in repayment" is 1590s; that of "give back, restore" c.1600. Related: Returned; returning.