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

University trustees originally agreed to pay Wise $400,000 as part of her resignation agreement, but backpedaled six days later and gave her a one-year $365,000 sabbatical and a faculty position. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "13 costly personnel changes at Illinois public colleges," 1 July 2019 Winker summoned his mates from the bench, backpedaled toward 2nd base, then veered into RF before allowing the circle jumping party to commence. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: Cincinnati Reds rebuild not over but David Bell has players' attention," 19 June 2019 Pettis backpedaled out of the third-base coach's box. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros begin road trip with loss to Reds," 18 June 2019 The Legislature backpedaled on Thursday, revising the language on the bridge, which is expected to be completed by 2024. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "House GOP backs off language on Gordie Howe bridge spending," 13 June 2019 Just recently, Chicago's Loyola University was caught enforcing a policy forbidding employees from communicating with journalists — from which administrators backpedaled and updated the media policy after a public outcry. Frank D. Lomonte For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Whistleblowers' rights could be at risk under Trump's new labor board," 12 June 2019 Trump agenda: Origin story NBC's Mike Memoli reports on new details about the DOJ probe of the origins of the Russia investigation. Democrats are backpedaling on a bill that would have raised congressional salaries. NBC News, "Trump, Biden battle for the spotlight in Iowa," 11 June 2019 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

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

14 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backpedal

The first known use of backpedal was in 1896

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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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