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 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 Given this growing dissatisfaction and Ireland’s heavy economic ties to the U.K., the negative impact of a no-deal Brexit could force Varadkar and the EU’s hands over the backstop. Chris Gavin, National Review, "Can the U.S. Help the Post-Brexit U.K.?," 13 Aug. 2019 The moves have made some investors wary any overhaul could reduce or eliminate the federal backstop. Ben Eisen, WSJ, "Push to Overhaul Fannie, Freddie Nudges Up Mortgage Costs," 25 June 2019 But this scenario understates the problem of the Irish border backstop designed to kick in if alternatives to a hard border on the island of Ireland cannot be found. Craig Berry, Quartz, "Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit cabinet actually makes a soft Brexit more likely," 26 July 2019 For as much as Pedroia wants to line a double off the wall at Fenway Park and slide into second as the crowd roars, that can’t come at the expense of being able to coach his sons instead of watching from behind the backstop. Peter Abraham,, "Dustin Pedroia, on crutches, visits Red Sox after latest knee surgery," 27 Aug. 2019 Some of Mr Johnson’s advisers want to revert to a Northern Ireland-only backstop. The Economist, "Europe ponders how to avoid blame for no-deal," 11 Sep. 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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Statistics for backstop

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for backstop

The first known use of backstop was in 1819

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on backstop

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for backstop

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backstop

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