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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On a recent afternoon, a father stuffed an enormous teddy bear for his toddler into his backpack. Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 Assistant State’s Attorney David Owens said Greene and Silcott started arguing with Parks in the 1200 block of E. Fayette St. over their bus fare, and proceeded to steal his backpack and run. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 3 May 2022 Knight said a student tried to rip a pride pin off their backpack this year and called them a slur. NBC News, 7 Apr. 2022 Additionally, there are several pockets located throughout the pants to offer storage on top of your hiking backpack or fanny pack. Emily Belfiore, Travel + Leisure, 8 Mar. 2022 Between ends at curling, Mark Callan quietly laid down pebbles on the ice sheets, with his water backpack and hose. New York Times, 23 Feb. 2022 In an affidavit filed in court, police said Allsbrooks entered the Longworth building at 7:43 a.m. and walked through a magnetometer while his backpack was conveyed through an X-ray screening machine. Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2022 In 2017, after a teacher smelled marijuana smoke, school officials found marijuana seeds, rolling paper, a lighter and loose pills in the then eighth grader’s backpack. Ruth Serven Smith |, al, 7 Feb. 2022 The suspects then grabbed from the woman her backpack and a reusable Whole Foods store bag. cleveland, 7 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hermès coat, $4,375,, The Row jacket, $1,820,, Dior Men pants, $1,200,, Bottega Veneta sneakers, $1,300, Play the game—and win—in an athletic zip-up and backpack. Jason Rider, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2022 Betty may also have a purple-colored JanSport backpack with her. Haleigh Kochanski, The Arizona Republic, 26 Mar. 2022 Amazon shoppers love this Cluci convertible backpack purse with 10,000 five-star ratings for its stylish look, functional features, and huge color assortment. Jessica Leigh Mattern,, 21 Mar. 2022 There’s no better way to learn how to backpack overnight than to go with knowledgeable guides. Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2022 Clippers coach Tyronn Lue couldn’t wait to leave for Las Vegas following his team’s final game before the NBA’s all-star break, throwing a Louis Vuitton backpack over a shoulder and hustling out of Arena quickly last Thursday. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2022 The dome has drawn people here for thousands of years, and today, visitors can hike, backpack, rock climb, bird, and even stargaze, as the park is designated an International Dark Sky Park. Amanda Ogle, Travel + Leisure, 20 Feb. 2022 The weekend backpack program costs about $80,000 per year to maintain. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, 12 Feb. 2022 For young padawans, a lunchbox and youth Heritage backpack round out the Jedi Praxeum-ready line. Danielle Directo-meston, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near backpack

back out



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Statistics for backpack

Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Backpack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for backpack


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

Kids Definition of backpack

: a bag worn on the back for carrying things

More from Merriam-Webster on backpack

Nglish: Translation of backpack for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of backpack for Arabic Speakers


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