back·​log | \ ˈbak-ˌlȯg How to pronounce backlog (audio) , -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

In videogames, for example, regulators imposed a freeze on new licenses for most of last year, and now face a backlog of applications. Maria Armental, WSJ, "Baidu Forecasts Weaker Growth as Chinese Economy Slows," 22 Feb. 2019 The country is facing a massive backlog of immigration cases — some 700,000 — and there are more and more families coming across the border from Central America — groups who cannot be simply returned over the border. Catherine Lucey, The Seattle Times, "Trump stokes pre-election fear of immigrants to drive voters," 30 Oct. 2018 Federal immigration courts faced a backlog of more than 700,000 cases in May, and cases can take months or years to be heard. New York Times, "Trump Calls for Depriving Immigrants Who Illegally Cross Border of Due Process Rights," 24 June 2018 Immigration courts currently face a major backlog in the number of cases before them. Allie Malloy, CNN, "Trump calls for sweeping changes to US immigration legal process," 24 May 2018 The backlog of orders index was minus 18 this month, versus 15 in November. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "Richmond Fed’s Manufacturing Index Weakened in December," 26 Dec. 2018 The report also said PenFed had a backlog of transactions flagged for further investigation. Ryan Tracy, WSJ, "Credit Union’s Employees Saw Anti-Money-Laundering Compliance Gaps," 30 Oct. 2018 Disney+, the company’s standalone streaming service, will launch with an assortment of high-profile original series and a backlog of Disney original content. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Disney plans heavy investment in Hulu, wants more original series," 9 Nov. 2018 That coincided with the Obama administration, which — faced with gargantuan backlogs — prioritized deporting undocumented immigrants who had only recently entered the country. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Feds decided to deport her — two decades after her Miami marijuana arrest," 5 July 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

2 Mar 2019

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The first known use of backlog was in 1684

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on backlog

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backlog

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for backlog

Spanish Central: Translation of backlog

Nglish: Translation of backlog for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of backlog for Arabic Speakers

Comments on backlog

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

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