noun back·haul \ ˈbak-¦hȯl \

Definition of backhaul

plural backhauls
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 SchneiderIEEE SpectrumJuly 2009

There's more!

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

Origin and Etymology of backhaul

3back + haul



verb, transitive + intransitive back·haul \ ˈbak-¦hȯl \

Definition of backhaul

backhauled; backhauling; backhauls
1 T/I : 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 MorrellRetail Week16 Oct. 2009
  • As shipping rates increase, backhauling empty containers makes less economic sense.
  • —Thomas M. StrahTransport Topics10 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 ParksSupermarket News1 Mar. 2007
2 T 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

First Known Use of backhaul


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up backhaul? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


formed or used for a special purpose

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-dog-in-snow-jumping-to-grab-a-heart-shaped-balloon-the-snow-and-heart-balloon-indicate-that-the-month-being-represented-is-april-and-the-dog-is-just-kinda-cute
  • Which is a synonym of sanguine?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!