back·​stop | \ ˈbak-ˌstäp How to pronounce backstop (audio) \
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 right-hander threw a wild pitch that skipped all the way to the backstop, allowed a towering fly ball that landed halfway up the right field bleachers and still escaped the jam unscathed. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Giants can’t complete the sweep, D’backs walk off against Mark Melancon," 23 June 2019 Machado flung his bat to the backstop before he was corralled to the Padres’ dugout. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Umpires not happy with Machado ban; Hosmer among players calling for ump accountability," 18 June 2019 Without a deal on the backstop there can be no withdrawal treaty, and Britain will tumble off the Brexit cliff edge on March 29th 2019. The Economist, "The EU digests Britain’s new Brexit plan," 11 July 2018 Besides, Cooperstown is so thin on backstops—only 15 are enshrined—that its ranks could stand to be fleshed out. Staff,, "Nine Innings: David Price's New Vantage Point, Joe Mauer's Hall of Fame Candidacy and a Possible Reboot of the '86 Postseason," 16 Apr. 2018 But for most of the rest, good credit is not only desirable but represents an important financial backstop. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Here's one way to know if you are — or aren't — part of the middle class," 16 June 2019 Will LeMire, junior goalie, White Bear Lake: The Bears’ backstop thwarted 72.7 percent of shot attempts this season. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Pioneer Press boys lacrosse player of the year: St. Thomas Academy’s Luke Williams," 10 June 2019 Yasmani Grandal has been the best catcher in baseball since 2016 Yasmani Grandal is having a great season, and the Brewers' one-year deal for the backstop is looking like a stroke of genius. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Five eye-opening stats that illustrate how good five potential Milwaukee Brewers all-stars have been," 10 June 2019 The growth of evangelicals — while the Catholic Church has been losing numbers — provides a crucial cultural and political backstop for social conservatives. Rich Lowry, National Review, "The Post-Liberal Dead End," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In spite of extreme efforts by governments to backstop banks and restore financial markets, the recession created double digit unemployment. Bill George, Fortune, "Why the Era of Free Trade May Be Coming to an End," 25 June 2019 Sisco once was regarded as Baltimore’s catcher of the future, but that title now belongs to Adley Rutschman, the Oregon State backstop the Orioles took with the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Nathan Ruiz,, "On eve of demotion anniversary, Chance Sisco feeling comfortable with Orioles," 16 June 2019 The policy would backstop other state measures forcing electric utilities to decarbonize, while requiring industrial companies to adopt the most efficient technologies to reduce their emissions, or pay for them., "Oregon’s massive cap-and-trade bill inches forward," 6 June 2019 Nuclear would have to be replaced with natural gas plants necessary to backstop intermittent wind and solar. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Tom Steyer’s Energy Orders," 19 Oct. 2018 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

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

7 Jul 2019

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

: 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 How to pronounce backstop (audio) \

Kids Definition of backstop

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

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