back·​pack | \ ˈbak-ˌpak How to pronounce backpack (audio) \
plural backpacks

Definition of backpack

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a pack (see pack entry 1 sense 1a) that usually has two shoulder straps and is carried on the back: such as
(1) : a large pack (as of canvas or nylon) that is supported by an external or internal frame (as of aluminum) and is used especially for carrying supplies when hiking and camping The logistics of the trip required that I carry all my stuff in a backpack. Since I didn't want to lug too heavy a load on the hiking leg of the trip, I pared way down.— Daisann McLane
(2) : a bag or small pack (as of canvas, polyester, or nylon) used for carrying personal belongings or supplies : knapsack I rode my bicycle to the market and rode home with my backpack full of exotic lettuces and basil-garlic baguettes.— Meredith Maran Each morning, tens of thousands of moms load phones, along with homework, into the backpacks of schoolchildren.— Michael Specter
b : a load carried on the back
2 : a piece of equipment designed for use while being carried on the back By wearing a jet-propelled "space backpack," astronauts will be able to move freely in space, making it possible to build, repair, and maintain craft in orbit …Business Week I'm soaring above the central Sahara in a powered paraglider, a single-seat aircraft that looks like a flying lawn chair. Developed in France, it combines an inflated, parachute-like wing with a 50-pound motorized backpack.— George Steinmetz


backpacked; backpacking; backpacks

Definition of backpack (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to carry (food or equipment) on the back especially in hiking

intransitive verb

: to hike with a backpack

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Other Words from backpack


backpacker noun

Synonyms for backpack

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of backpack in a Sentence

Noun stuffed her backpack with so many books that she could barely walk Verb After college, she backpacked through Europe. We're planning to go backpacking in a national park this summer.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun According to family members, Jayden was walking into a room when the relative was taking the gun out of the backpack. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, "10-year-old boy shot at West Side apartment faces lengthy recovery," 23 Feb. 2021 Loose items can be placed in a backpack for easier transport to kit recipients. Ashley Vaughan, CNN, "5 ways you can help those facing homelessness in the cold," 20 Feb. 2021 Condensation and mist collect on the fabric of your backpack as the weather changes. Matt Jancer, Wired, "20 Best Deals From Winter Clearance Sales This Week," 12 Feb. 2021 Because after researching an area, living out of your backpack, and hunting with real intensity, missing your shot at that one good opportunity is heartbreaking. Outdoor Life, "7 Rules You Must Follow to Punch Your Big-Game Tag on Public Land," 10 Dec. 2020 In June, documents state Adams pulled a black handgun out of a backpack and pointed it at two people. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "Police: Suspect in custody after 'lengthy pursuit' on I-75, I-71," 13 Oct. 2020 Another Twitter user made a hilarious comparison to her own first day of school backpack. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Kylie Jenner's Daughter Stormi Wore a $12,000 Hermès Backpack for Her First Day of School," 1 Oct. 2020 If the two of you have adventures planned for 2021, a backpack is a thoughtful gift that can spark excitement for your upcoming journeys. Jennifer Manfrin,, "Best Valentine’s Day presents for your spouse," 22 Jan. 2021 The 2Office backpack goes on sale this spring for $199.99. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Best of CES 2021: The Most Promising and Exciting Tech This Year," 15 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb All these organic herbicides should be sprayed with pump-up, trombone or backpack sprayers — not with hose-end sprayers. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "Winter is the time to treat lawns for spring weeds," 28 Dec. 2020 Running off to au pair in Italy or to backpack through Southeast Asia were not options. Tara Duggan,, "The silver lining of having a kid stay home for college during the pandemic," 12 Dec. 2020 The iPad Air weighs 1 pound and is compact enough to fit into your work bag or backpack. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "Best Apple sales and deals: Apple Watch, AirPods, iPhones and more," 2 Dec. 2020 At less than five inches tall , the unit is small enough to slip into a diaper bag, backpack, or carry-on luggage for easy travel. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Sound machines to help your baby sleep," 9 Oct. 2020 Another showed a boy, in a mask and backpack, outside a school’s front door. Leslie Postal,, "Through a camera lens, Central Florida students find images to sum up life in the pandemic," 1 Dec. 2020 No scope to dial or bipod to level or backpack to shuck or range to find. Andrew Mckean, Outdoor Life, "An Old-School Western Mule Deer Hunt, in Memory of Two Midwestern Dads," 13 Nov. 2020 For people who backpack or hike frequently, Alt recommends buying high-quality boots at an outfitter who will help choose the right weight and fit the boots. Ariel Cheung,, "The ultimate guide to winter camping in Illinois during COVID-19," 21 Nov. 2020 The blind also has zippered flagging ports on each side, a padded headrest, and backpack carry straps. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, "The Waterfowl Hunter’s Holiday Gift Guide," 16 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backpack.' 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 backpack


1897, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1899, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Time Traveler for backpack

Time Traveler

The first known use of backpack was in 1897

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Statistics for backpack

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Backpack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for backpack



English Language Learners Definition of backpack

 (Entry 1 of 2)

chiefly US : a bag for carrying things that has two shoulder straps and is carried on the back



English Language Learners Definition of backpack (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hike or travel with a backpack


back·​pack | \ ˈbak-ˌpak How to pronounce backpack (audio) \

Kids Definition of backpack

: a bag worn on the back for carrying things

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Comments on backpack

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