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back·​pack ˈbak-ˌpak How to pronounce backpack (audio)
plural backpacks
: a pack (see pack entry 1 sense 1a) that usually has two shoulder straps and is carried on the back: such as
: 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
: 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
: a load carried on the back
: 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


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backpacked; backpacking; backpacks

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to hike with a backpack
backpacker noun

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
Keep scrolling to find your new go-to backpack for under $50. Alexandra Domrongchai, Travel + Leisure, 10 Sep. 2023 This goes for backpacks, purses, handbags, camera bags, messenger bags, soft-sided coolers and any style of bag. Drew Dawson, Journal Sentinel, 7 Sep. 2023 Weighing less than 2 pounds, the monitor can easily fit in a large backpack or duffel bag. Jenna Clark, Better Homes & Gardens, 6 Sep. 2023 In the latest surveillance footage, Bivens said Cavalcante has acquired a hooded sweatshirt and a backpack. Liam Quinn, Peoplemag, 5 Sep. 2023 These options for your home, car, and backpack lend peace of mind and valuable tools in case of emergency. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, 4 Sep. 2023 Wes Smith was standing on a sidewalk near an area bar on Friday around 1 a.m., when the suspect, Matthew Purdy Jr., 21, who was wearing a white T-shirt, dark pants, red ball cap and carrying a backpack, approached him and appeared to speak to Smith, surveillance video reviewed by police showed. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, 4 Sep. 2023 Speaking from personal experience of dropping one down a staircase and accidentally smashing it against a wall while sitting in a backpack, it was also remarkably built tough. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 30 Aug. 2023 Police were investigating an incident at a Phoenix elementary school on Monday after a gun was found in a preschool child's backpack. The Arizona Republic, 29 Aug. 2023
The other title is The Royal Hotel, director Kitty Green and actor Julia Garner’s film about two friends who run out of cash while backpacking in Australia and must take jobs in an exploitative pub to fund their trip home. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Sep. 2023 Her favorite activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, and canoeing. Lindsey Lapointe, Field & Stream, 3 Aug. 2023 Bill Roberts of Lake Tahoe was reported missing Saturday, when he was supposed to meet up with family members at Bullfrog Lake after a three-day solo backpacking trip along the John Muir Trail, according to a statement by the National Park Service. Mary Walrath-Holdridge, USA TODAY, 14 Aug. 2023 Advertisement Ott’s mother, Janice Ott, fell in love with backpacking on her first trip with the group to the Grand Canyon in 1974. Emily Alvarenga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Aug. 2023 Lightweight backpacking cots feature aluminum frames that save weight and are detachable for easy storage in a pack. Max Inchausti, Field & Stream, 2 Aug. 2023 These are great for layering, as backpacking sleepwear, or your go-to fall/winter hunting cold weather apparel. Field & Stream Commerce Team, Field & Stream, 3 Aug. 2023 For longer hikes like my backpacking excursion, this best-selling reliable portable charger is essential. Katie Jackson, Travel + Leisure, 28 July 2023 Then crews airlifted the overheated dog July 24, 2023 Adamson, according to an ABC report, is a former teacher who backpacked across the country and wrote a book about the subject. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'backpack.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1897, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1899, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of backpack was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near backpack

Cite this Entry

“Backpack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
back·​pack ˈbak-ˌpak How to pronounce backpack (audio)
: a camping pack carried on the back
also : knapsack


2 of 2 verb
: to hike with a backpack
backpacker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on backpack

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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