back·​stop | \ˈbak-ˌstäp \
plural backstops

Definition of backstop 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something at the back serving as a stop: such as

a : a screen or fence for keeping a ball from leaving the field of play

b : a stop (such as a pawl) that prevents a backward movement (as of a wheel)

2 : a player (such as the catcher) positioned behind the batter

3 : 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


backstopped; backstopping; backstops

Definition of backstop (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

2 : to serve as a backstop to

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for backstop

Synonyms: Verb

abet, aid, assist, back, help, prop (up), support

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of backstop in a Sentence


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


the Nobel-winning geneticist was of course backstopped in his research by a team of highly talented assistants
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The bulkhead separating Delta’s Economy Comfort seating from business class doubled as a backstop for the altar. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "Delta Air Lines sends its last Boeing 747 to Arizona 'boneyard'," 4 Jan. 2018 But the throw sailed out of play behind the backstop, scoring two runs, and a 6-4 lead. Dan Shulman,, "In D2 debut, Greater New Bedford softball rules South," 16 June 2018 Schramm said the Forest Service worked with members of the shooting community to alter parking at the site so people would fire into the hillside backstop and avoid the trees. Evan Bush, The Seattle Times, "Forest Service closes target-shooting area near Greenwater following residents’ complaints," 2 July 2018 The 29-year-old backstop and former first-round pick broke out in 2014 with a .273/.359/.534 line, 25 homers, a 147 OPS+ and 4.7 WAR in 440 plate appearances to earn a four-year, $28 million extension the following winter. Jon Tayler,, "Trade to Reds Might Be Worst-Case Scenario for Matt Harvey," 8 May 2018 Despite severing official ties with Taipei in 1979, Washington has acted as the backstop for Taiwan’s security through arms sales and a vow to intervene should China attempt to claim Taiwan by force. Debby Wu,, "New U.S. Taiwan Office Prompts Questions Over Who'll Lead It," 12 June 2018 Trump’s aides are looking at ways to use the Commodity Credit Corporation, a division of the Agriculture Department that was created in 1933 to offer a financial backstop for farmers. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Paul Ryan’s party is over," 12 Apr. 2018 An All-Star in 2016, Ramos is one of the more productive offensive catchers, leading AL backstops in batting (.289) and second in OPS (.802). Scott Boeck, USA TODAY, "MLB All-Star Game rosters: Red Sox, Astros, Yankees dominate AL; upstart Braves get 4 NL stars," 8 July 2018 Many metrics paint Avila as a proficient defensive backstop this season. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Diamondbacks activate struggling catcher Alex Avila from disabled list," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Edwards tied for the team lead with four picks as a junior and will be called upon again to be a primary playmaker for a defense that has to replace seven starters yet is still being relied upon to backstop the Badgers’ playoff hopes. — ES 94. Chris Johnson And Eric Single,, "Top 100 College Football Players of 2018: Nos. 100–51," 18 June 2018 Boston Bruins Does Frederik Andersen have enough gas in the tank to backstop a two-month playoff run? Staff,, "Why Each NHL Team Won't Win the Stanley Cup," 10 Apr. 2018 But the Trump team is invoking its aggressive constitutional theory to backstop its other arguments. Charlie Savage, New York Times, "Trump and His Lawyers Embrace a Vision of Vast Executive Power," 4 June 2018 Fired up in the first Cup Final game in Washington since 1998, the Capitals unloaded chance after chance on Fleury, who made 23 saves but couldn't backstop a frazzled, disjointed team that lost two games in a row for the first time in the playoffs. Stephen Whyno,, "Capitals flying high up 2-1 on Vegas in Stanley Cup Final," 2 June 2018 Trudeau’s government upped the ante this week, with Finance Minister Bill Morneau pledging to indemnify the C$7.4 billion ($5.8 billion) project for politically motivated delays and backstop any company willing to take it on. Michael Bellusci,, "For Sale: Stalled Pipeline Project, Protesters Included," 18 May 2018 The 37-year-old backup was in net again Wednesday to backstop the Ducks to victory — and a playoff berth — but Gibson could be returning from his latest injury soon. Mike Coppinger,, "John Gibson returns to Ducks practice," 5 Apr. 2018 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to start talks with Kinder Morgan Inc. to backstop the Trans Mountain pipeline after failing to end a spat between Canadian provinces that put the vital project at risk. Houston Chronicle, "Canada's Trudeau seeks talks with Kinder Morgan to get pipeline built," 16 Apr. 2018 But Trump has been having a hard time rallying other countries to backstop his push to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods. Erica Werner,, "Trump weighs rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership he once called 'disaster'," 13 Apr. 2018

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


1819, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for backstop

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backstop

The first known use of backstop was in 1819

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More Definitions for backstop



English Language Learners Definition of backstop

baseball : a fence or screen that is placed behind the catcher to prevent the ball from rolling away

: something that is kept so that it can be used if it is needed


back·​stop | \ˈbak-ˌstäp \

Kids Definition of backstop

: a fence behind the catcher to keep a baseball from rolling away

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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