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back·​step ˈbak-ˌstep How to pronounce backstep (audio)
plural backsteps
: a backward step
A rugged, aggressive, hard-punching pugilist who refuses to take a backstep in the ring …San Gabriel Valley Tribune (California), 21 Oct. 2009


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intransitive verb

back·​step ˈbak-ˌstep How to pronounce backstep (audio)
backstepped; backstepping; backsteps
: to take a step backward
Gwynn deflected the axe again and backstepped rapidly, trying to get some space in which to catch a breath.K. J. Bishop, The Etched City, 2003
: to modify, retreat from, or reverse a position or stand once taken : backtrack sense 2
Kentucky legislators forced multi-age classes on its elementary schools in 1992 as part of an education overhaul, but backstepped last year by allowing unhappy schools to opt out.Susan Hill Smith, Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), 16 Sept. 1997

Word History

First Known Use


1562, in the meaning defined above

Intransitive Verb

1900, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of backstep was in 1562

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Dictionary Entries Near backstep

Cite this Entry

“Backstep.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

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