back·​track | \ˈbak-ˌtrak \
backtracked; backtracking; backtracks

Definition of backtrack 

intransitive verb

1a : to retrace one's course

b : to go back to an earlier point in a sequence

2 : to reverse a position

Examples of backtrack in a Sentence

The hikers realized they had made a wrong turn and would have to backtrack. Let me backtrack for a moment and pick up our previous conversation.

Recent Examples on the Web

That earlier assertion, in turn, backtracked from an initial statement that Saudi authorities knew nothing about what happened to the columnist for The Washington Post, who vanished after entering the consulate Oct. 2. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "Saudi Arabia again changes its story on Khashoggi killing," 25 Oct. 2018 To backtrack: Yesterday was Reinhart's 22nd birthday. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Two 'Riverdale' Stars Spoofed That Cole Sprouse Instagram Post to Lili Reinhart," 14 Sep. 2018 Unfortunately, the now-missing climax backtracked this reading substantially. Graeme Mcmillan, The Verge, "The TV reboot of Heathers was doomed from the start," 31 Oct. 2018 Musk initially vowed to fight the charges, but after Tesla's stock cratered on Friday, Musk backtracked and settled the case on Saturday. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "SEC settlement sends Tesla stock soaring," 1 Oct. 2018 John Kelly, then Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and now White House chief of staff, floated the policy publicly in March 2017, only to backtrack in the face of political concern. Molly Ball, Time, "Trump Backed Down, But the Crisis at the Border Is Far From Over," 21 June 2018 Instead, the league seemed to muddle the divisive issue even more with a new policy that stirred up defenders of free speech, prompted a couple of owners to quickly backtrack, and raised all sorts of potential questions heading into next season. Paul Newberry, The Christian Science Monitor, "Kneel if you like, but stay out of sight: NFL muddles issue with new anthem policy," 24 May 2018 Mozeliak later backtracked on his comment, and Fowler accepted his apology. Paul Sullivan,, "Dexter Fowler and the Cardinals trying to keep their heads in trying times," 10 July 2018 Russian Sanctions Salvini wants a 15-percent flat tax and favors protectionist tariffs, though has backtracked on opposition to the single currency., "Populist Salvini’s Provocations Drive His Appeal Across Italy," 5 Mar. 2018

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

1870, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for backtrack

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backtrack

The first known use of backtrack was in 1870

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More Definitions for backtrack



English Language Learners Definition of backtrack

: to go back over a course or path

: to return to something that was mentioned before

: to completely change what you think or say about something


back·​track | \ˈbak-ˌtrak \
backtracked; backtracking

Kids Definition of backtrack

: to go back over a course or a path

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More from Merriam-Webster on backtrack

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backtrack

Spanish Central: Translation of backtrack

Nglish: Translation of backtrack for Spanish Speakers

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