back·​haul | \ ˈbak-¦hȯl How to pronounce backhaul (audio) \
plural backhauls

Definition of backhaul

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the return movement of a transportation vehicle from the direction of its principal haul especially transporting a shipment back over part or all of the route
2 telecommunications : the physical part of a communications network between the central backbone and the individual local networks … the data flows along the power lines for about a kilometer before it’s siphoned off the line and into an optical fiber or cellular-based backhaul system.— David Schneider, IEEE Spectrum, July 2009


verb, transitive + intransitive
back·​haul | \ ˈbak-¦hȯl How to pronounce backhaul (audio) \
backhauled; backhauling; backhauls

Definition of backhaul (Entry 2 of 2)

1 transitive + intransitive : to pick up (something) at one of the stops along a delivery route and transport it over part or all of the return route The grocer has its own recycling facilities where materials to be recycled are backhauled to its distribution centres.— Liz Morrell, Retail Week, 16 Oct. 2009 As shipping rates increase, backhauling empty containers makes less economic sense.— Thomas M. Strah, Transport Topics, 10 July 2006 … they also attempt to maximize backhauling, in which goods from a supplier are picked up on a truck's return trip to a distribution center, to reduce the number of empty miles driven.— Liz Parks, Supermarket News, 1 Mar. 2007
2 transitive, telecommunications : to transmit (data) over the backhaul part of a network The exponential growth in wireless traffic … [is] forcing mobile carriers to deal with backhauling data from the cell sites to the core network. — Jan Norman, Orange County Register (California), 22 Mar. 2011

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First Known Use of backhaul


1899, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb, transitive + intransitive

1915, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for backhaul


back entry 3 + haul

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The first known use of backhaul was in 1899

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Cite this Entry

“Backhaul.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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