back·log | \ ˈbak-ˌlȯg , -ˌläg \

Definition of backlog 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a large log at the back of a hearth fire

2 : an accumulation of tasks unperformed or materials not processed a backlog of court cases


backlogged; backlogging; backlogs

Definition of backlog (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of backlog in a Sentence


We have a huge backlog of orders to be filled.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While the company has requested exclusions from the tariff, the Department of Commerce has a backlog of more than 20,000 requests. Jenny Jarvie,, "Workers in this town may become victims of Trump's trade war, but they're behind him 'no matter what'," 5 July 2018 But the courts are have a backlog of nearly 700,000 cases, a number that has doubled from six years ago. Gerald Porter Jr., WSJ, "Manhattan’s Immigration Court Begins Video Only Hearings," 29 June 2018 Numbers compiled by Comptroller Mendoza and obtained by the AP show the state has a backlog of 15,000 people who are awaiting Medicaid eligibility determinations. Washington Post, "APNewsBreak: Illinois on hook for $300M in nursing care," 28 June 2018 But the backlogs that have developed over the past several weeks at crossings in California, Arizona, and Texas – and people sleeping out in the open for days at a time – are rare. The Christian Science Monitor, "Asylum-seekers line up at US-Mexico border," 8 June 2018 Some nominees have had their confirmation held up by the Senate, and on Tuesday Majority Leader Mitch McConnell canceled the August recess to address the backlog (among other reasons). Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Risk of Being Mueller’s Boss Scares Off Top Justice Department Candidates," 6 June 2018 The immigration courts already have a backlog of nearly 700,000 cases, a number that would rise to over a million if administrative closures are eliminated, said Sara Ramey, executive director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, "Sessions takes key authority away from immigration judges," 17 May 2018 Immigration court has a backlog nationwide of close to 700,000 cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University. Kate Morrissey,, "What happens when someone asks for asylum at the border," 29 Apr. 2018 Carolina has a backlog of nickel cornerbacks on the roster. Jourdan Rodrigue, charlotteobserver, "A 'Honey Badger' in Carolina? Panthers may have found that in Donte Jackson | Charlotte Observer," 27 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backlog.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of backlog


1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1963, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for backlog

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for backlog

The first known use of backlog was in 1684

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More Definitions for backlog



Financial Definition of backlog

What It Is

Frequently used in manufacturing industries, backlog refers to unfinished work or to customer orders that have been received but are either incomplete or in the process of completion.

How It Works

Let's assume XYZ Company is able to manufacture 10,000 widgets per day. On Monday morning, the company receives an order for 50,000 widgets. Given the company's daily production capacity, XYZ Company will end Monday with a backlog of 40,000 widgets. If each widget sells for $1, XYZ Company would report a $40,000 backlog.

Backlogs are usually measured in dollars and generally occur when there is a shortage of labor or supplies. Building products to each customer's specifications may also lead to backlogs.

Why It Matters

Changes in a company's backlog may have profit implications. A rising backlog may indicate that a company is experiencing either increased sales or production problems; a falling backlog may indicate the company's sales are falling or that it is increasing production efficiency.

It is important to study a company's revenue recognition policies when evaluating backlog. Some companies may use the percentage-of-completion method, whereby a percentage of the anticipated revenue from the sale of the product is recognized according to the percentage of work complete on a specific product. If a company is not able to reasonably measure the costs and revenues attributable to different stages of the production process, it may use completed-contract accounting, whereby the revenue is recorded when the project is complete.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of backlog

: a large number of jobs that are waiting to be finished

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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