back·​ped·​al | \ ˈbak-ˌpe-dᵊl How to pronounce backpedal (audio) \
backpedaled; backpedaling; backpedals

Definition of backpedal

intransitive verb

: to retreat or move backward

Examples of backpedal in a Sentence

The outfielder backpedaled a few steps to catch the fly ball.

Recent Examples on the Web

Guns: The White House proposed arming teachers, while backpedaling on raising the age to buy guns. Brian Ries, CNN, "President Trump today: Live updates," 12 Mar. 2018 That left Hatch backpedaling later, insisting he had not meant to refer to the Chappaquiddick controversy. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Orrin Hatch Could Have Been Worse," 2 Jan. 2018 Explaining will come across as backpedaling and excuse-making and spin to someone disinclined to believe you. Carolyn Hax, The Seattle Times, "Ready to be estranged from sister," 28 Jan. 2019 After Guillorme backpedaled for a twisting catch, Contreras scampered home, seizing on the wrong-way momentum. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "These Are Not the Mets Mickey Callaway Is Looking For," 3 June 2018 After a February school shooting in Florida, Trump briefly strayed from gun rights dogma, but quickly backpedaled. Jonathan Lemire,, "Trump to meet with families of victims of Texas school shooting," 31 May 2018 In the past year, Google’s leadership had to rapidly backpedal from the company’s attempt to work with the Department of Defense on projects to enhance weapons targeting—and the decision to back out met with criticism as well. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "Google Outgrows Its Youthful Ideals," 17 Aug. 2018 Freeze has kept an edge, but he's backpedaled to a more defensive stance since his infamous tweet. Pete Thamel,, "The Case Against Ole Miss: amid significant allegations, will the NCAA find smoke or fire in Rebels' football program?," 29 June 2016 If truly an accident, the airline can backpedal, cancel your ticket, and refund you. Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Find Cheap Flights," 25 Sep. 2018

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

1896, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for backpedal

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backpedal

The first known use of backpedal was in 1896

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More Definitions for backpedal



English Language Learners Definition of backpedal

: to move backward with quick steps

More from Merriam-Webster on backpedal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backpedal

Comments on backpedal

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


an act or instance of returning to life

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