back·​ped·​al | \ ˈbak-ˌpe-dᵊl \
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

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 Adding to the release’s hilariously backpedaling subtext: its failure to even mention the name of the Outstanding Popular Film award. Devon Maloney, The Verge, "Academy backpedals on Popular Oscar idea, realizing it needs workshopping," 6 Sep. 2018 Brady, for example does at times backpedal just a tad during his drop-back. Conor Orr,, "I Scouted the Patriots Using Steve Belichick’s Scouting Manual. Here’s What I Learned," 16 Jan. 2018 After a barrage of bipartisan criticism and requests for the same treatment from other coastal states, Zinke has backpedaled. Darryl Fears, Washington Post, "Why New Jersey is leading the resistance to Trump’s offshore drilling plan," 27 May 2018 Correa went through agility drills and calisthenic exercises — moving laterally, starting and stopping and backpedaling — for about 10 minutes before retreating into the clubhouse. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Carlos Correa headed to DL with back stiffness," 28 June 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

27 Jan 2019

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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

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