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

Antonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After the Astros batted, manager AJ Hinch came from the dugout to talk with Holbrook while Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre met with Cederstrom on the dirt near the backstop., "HOUSTON — Now we have a World Series.," 30 Oct. 2019 That puts us in a position where the ultimate backstop is the White House. Renae Merle, Washington Post, "Payday lenders discussed raising money for Trump’s campaign to fend off regulation, audio reveals," 29 Oct. 2019 What drew most attention was its replacement for the backstop to avert a hard border in Ireland in all circumstances by keeping the entire United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU. The Economist, "Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal moves a step nearer to approval," 26 Oct. 2019 The backstop was made to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the U.K.) and Ireland -- which is remaining within the E.U. Fox News, "Last minute bid by rebel MPs derails Brexit vote; Johnson pledges not to negotiate a delay," 20 Oct. 2019 Before the start of the 2018 season, major-league baseball instructed its 30 teams to have protective netting installed that would at a minimum extend from the backstop to the end of each dugout. Bob Ford,, "Baseball netting must increase as attention spans decrease | Bob Ford," 4 June 2019 The backstop would assure that goods would continue to flow freely over the border, but would also lock Britain into the European Union for an indeterminate time, something that Brexit backers cannot abide. New York Times, "A Brexit Protest, Reporters With Questions, but No Boris Johnson," 16 Sep. 2019 More broadly, enrollment has plunged by more than half over the past decade, and today Brighton serves as an educational backstop — a high school of last resort., "ada Pierre is tiny, her ambition drawn taut as a bowstring. The 16-year-old daughter of Haitian immigrants wears her hair in a small bun atop her head, her emerging political consciousness finding its voice in the bevy of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo stickers she’s pasted to her MacBook.," 15 Sep. 2019 The project scope includes all aspects of renovation, including playing surface, drainage, lightings, walkways and amenities (scoreboard, score box, dugouts, backstops and bleachers). John Benson,, "North Olmsted considering ballfields rehabilitation project at Community Park," 22 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His second year with the team saw him backstop the Sharks to their first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance. Brian Ricks, The Mercury News, "San Jose Sharks 2019-20 preview: Stop with the nonsense," 16 Sep. 2019 Together, the two entities collectively backstop a little less than half of the nation’s $11 trillion mortgage market. New York Times, "Trump Moves to Send Mortgage Giants Back to Private Sector," 5 Sep. 2019 Fellow Nationals backstop Yan Gomes ducks his head to avoid getting hit on a backswing. Matthew Gutierrez, The Denver Post, "In MLB’s age of velocity, catchers — like Rockies’ Tony Wolters — are increasingly feeling the heat," 4 Sep. 2019 California could soon make other moves to backstop the Trump administration’s weakening of environmental laws. Los Angeles Times, "This rat is foiling developers’ plans to capitalize on a weaker Endangered Species Act," 22 Aug. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for backstop

Time Traveler

The first known use of backstop was in 1819

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Statistics for backstop

Last Updated

24 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Backstop.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for backstop


How to pronounce backstop (audio)

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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backstop

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