he was forced to recant his political beliefs

renounce, disavow, deny, repudiate, renege on; formal forswear, abjure

he refused to recant

change one's mind, be apostate; rare tergiversate

he recanted his testimony

retract, take back, withdraw, unsay
recant, recount
Recant = publicly repudiate a previous statement, belief, or accusation. Recount = narrate a past event, esp. from personal experience. Recant sometimes erroneously displaces the similar-sounding recount — e.g.: "Dressed in a top hat and tails, Garrett chats with his riders and recants [read recounts] tales of Weston's glory days." (Des Moines Register; May 19, 2002.) The Oxford English Dictionary does give "recount" as one sense of recant but labels it obsolete and rare. The most recent example is from 1611.
Recant is best reserved for use with personal statements and public positions (think cant = sing). Other words are better suited when the thing taken back is something other than words — e.g.:
• "The state's consumer counsel has asked state regulators to recant [read reverse] a recent decision under which she said Yankee Gas ratepayers would bear all of the costs of the company's proposed multimillion-dollar system expansion." (Hartford Courant; Feb. 14, 2002.)
• "Why do I feel like I’m listening to a deathbed confession by someone who's been a bastard all his life and suddenly, at the 11th hour, is terrified and wants to recant [read make up for or renounce?] his evil ways?" (Daily News Leader [Staunton, VA]; Mar. 5, 2002.)
Recant may be transitive (as in the first use in the following example) or intransitive (as in the second): "Police have a follow-up interview scheduled with Olowokandi's former girlfriend, Suzanne Ketcham, who says she plans to recant her original statements to them and a representative of the district attorney's special victims unit. ‘It's not unusual for victims of domestic abuse to recant,’ Nilsson said." (Los Angeles Times; Dec. 7, 2001.) — BG

Thesaurus of popular words. 2014.

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  • recant — re·cant /ri kant/ vt: to renounce or withdraw (prior statements or testimony) surprised the prosecution by recant ing statements made earlier to the police vi: to renounce or withdraw prior statements or testimony re·can·ta·tion /ˌrē ˌkan tā… …   Law dictionary

  • Recant — Re*cant (r[ e]*k[a^]nt ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Recanted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Recanting}.] [L. recantare, recantatum, to recall, recant; pref. re re + cantare to sing, to sound. See 3d {Cant}, {Chant}.] To withdraw or repudiate formally and publicly …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Recant — Re*cant , v. i. To revoke a declaration or proposition; to unsay what has been said; to retract; as, convince me that I am wrong, and I will recant. Dryden. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • recant — (v.) 1530s, from L. recantare recall, revoke, from re back (see RE (Cf. re )) + cantare to chant (see CANT (Cf. cant) (1)). A word from the Reformation. Loan translation of Gk. palinoidein recant, from palin back + …   Etymology dictionary

  • recant — retract, *abjure, renounce, forswear Analogous words: withdraw, remove …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • recant — [v] take back something said abjure, abnegate, abrogate, annul, apostatize, back down, back off, back out, backtrack*, call back, cancel, contradict, countermand, deny, dial back*, disavow, disclaim, disown, eat one’s words*, forswear, go back on …   New thesaurus

  • recant — ► VERB ▪ renounce a former opinion or belief. DERIVATIVES recantation noun. ORIGIN Latin recantare revoke , from cantare sing, chant …   English terms dictionary

  • recant — [ri kant′] vt., vi. [L recantare < re , back, again + cantare, freq. of canere, to sing: see CHANT] to withdraw or renounce (beliefs or statements formerly held), esp. in a formal or public manner recantation [rē΄kan tā′shən] n. recanter n …   English World dictionary

  • recant — [[t]rɪkæ̱nt[/t]] recants, recanting, recanted VERB If you recant, you say publicly that you no longer hold a set of beliefs that you had in the past. [FORMAL] Alarmed by the furor the letter created, White House officials ordered Williams to… …   English dictionary

  • recant — UK [rɪˈkænt] / US verb [intransitive/transitive] Word forms recant : present tense I/you/we/they recant he/she/it recants present participle recanting past tense recanted past participle recanted formal 1) to say that something you said was not… …   English dictionary

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