Two possible contexts here:

  • Return or chassis earth return in an electrical circuit
  • Return or return key on a computer keyboard

Return or Chassis Earth Return

In the context of automotive electrics, any electrical flow in a circuit must be allowed to return to the battery, otherwise there will be no complete circuit and no electricity will flow.

Since the early 1980s, we have bolted the negative terminal of the battery directly to the chassis of a vehicle. This facilitates the return of electricity that has flowed from the positive terminal, out to a load and then must be conducted back to the negative terminal of the battery (conventional flow).

Electronics in modern vehicles must have negative earth return in order to work. The advantage of using the chassis to allow this return is that we only need half as much wiring as we otherwise would have. We only need a live wire going out to the component, and we then 'earth' or 'ground' the component to the chassis, thus removing the need to run a separate wire all the way back to the battery for returning electrons.

Return Key

The return and enter keysThe return or enter key is a key on the keyboard that you use to either tell the computer to do something, or start a new paragraph in a word processing document.

For example, if you enter some numbers into a cell on a spreadsheet, you hit the return key to comit the data to the spreadsheet.

On keyboards, the return key (circled in red) and the enter key (circled in green) have the same effect.

» Course Glossary