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back·​stop ˈbak-ˌstäp How to pronounce backstop (audio)
plural backstops
: something at the back serving as a stop: such as
: a screen or fence for keeping a ball from leaving the field of play
: a stop (such as a pawl) that prevents a backward movement (as of a wheel)
: a player (such as the catcher) positioned behind the batter
: something or someone that provides dependable support or protection against failure or loss
As the cold war heated up, Hoover became the country's backstop against subversion.David M. Oshinsky


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backstopped; backstopping; backstops

transitive verb

: to serve as a backstop to
: to play the position of goalkeeper for
backstop a hockey team

Examples of backstop in a Sentence

Noun The pitch got past the catcher and rolled all the way to the backstop. kept some gold as a backstop in case the value of the local currency collapsed Verb the Nobel-winning geneticist was of course backstopped in his research by a team of highly talented assistants
Recent Examples on the Web
Yet, centers are struggling to be that backstop for recurrent users while also staying available for everyone. Eli Cahan, ABC News, 10 Oct. 2023 Before last year, Alabama played a high-profile Power 5 team every Labor Day weekend so there was more of a backstop to making that call. Michael Casagrande |, al, 17 Aug. 2023 The one-time crypto mogul is accused of stealing billions of dollars in deposits from customers of his FTX crypto exchange and diverting those funds to buy luxury real estate, make campaign donations and backstop losses at his other firm, a crypto trading house called Alameda Research. Allison Morrow, CNN, 16 Oct. 2023 As a last resort, homeowners and businesses in those areas have turned to California’s FAIR plan, a backstop insurance provider funded by the companies that do business in the state, which charges much higher rates to provide less coverage in high-risk areas. Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Russia, by contrast, has only two countries—Iran and North Korea—openly assisting it with its war, although China has been both an important economic backstop to the Kremlin’s war effort and a provider of nonlethal military aid. Liana Fix, Foreign Affairs, 12 Sep. 2023 While some banks have suffered runs on deposits recently, deposits and other funding backstops that go with accepting them—such as the FHLB and the Fed Window—provide for lower costs and more predictable financing than wholesale capital markets. Mike Cagney, Fortune Crypto, 15 Sep. 2023 The events consisted of pitching into a backstop and aiming for corners, throwing to the same target from behind the pitcher’s mound, and putting accuracy to the test by knocking down bowling pins. Cam Kerry,, 3 Sep. 2023 His 72 walks are 27 more than any other backstop, and his 70 runs are also first at the position. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 2 Sep. 2023
Last week, Shenzhen Metro — and, by extension, the Shenzhen government — sought to calm investors by pledging to backstop Vanke. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2023 Regulators have ordered utilities to add 1,000 megawatts of electricity from clean sources that can run at all hours to backstop fluctuating wind and solar supplies. Brad Plumer, New York Times, 28 Aug. 2023 That’s largely seen as an attempt by OPEC members to look out for their own domestic priorities, given how heavily oil revenues backstop public budgets in those countries. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2023 Startup founders and venture capitalists weren’t the only ones cheering regulators’ decision to backstop all deposits after the swift collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Hannah Miao, WSJ, 14 Mar. 2023 While Beijing did little to backstop other major home builders, including Evergrande, the now bankrupt property developer that once rivaled Country Garden for market supremacy, the government has displayed a greater willingness to support the firm. Claire Fu, New York Times, 5 Sep. 2023 Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued $275 million of cat bonds to backstop the National Flood Insurance Program. David J. Lynch, Washington Post, 29 Aug. 2023 To stem contagion, the US government intervened to backstop deposits and extend credit to banks. Allison Morrow, CNN, 15 May 2023 But the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 required an act of Congress to backstop uninsured deposits. Stephen Miran,, 10 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'backstop.' 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


1819, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of backstop was in 1819

Dictionary Entries Near backstop

Cite this Entry

“Backstop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a screen or fence to keep a ball from leaving the field of play
: a baseball catcher
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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