back·​track | \ ˈbak-ˌtrak How to pronounce backtrack (audio) \
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 The Biden administration was taking partial credit for the WHO’s decision to backtrack on releasing an early summary of findings from the joint China-WHO team, Psaki said in late February. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Biden adminstration in wait-and-see mode on coronavirus origins ahead of WHO-China report," 27 Mar. 2021 The Army's social media post comes during a particularly rough week for U.S. military accounts, after the U.S. Marine Corps was forced to backtrack after one of its official accounts attacked Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "US Army Twitter account ridiculed over post boasting about Army's 'chief diversity officer'," 17 Mar. 2021 In New York, local lawmakers implemented a new rule Thursday barring outdoor diners from using indoor restrooms at restaurants, only to backtrack shortly after an outcry from business owners and patrons alike. Vandana Rambaran, Fox News, "NY, CA restaurants crushed by government's impulsive COVID-19 decisions, owners say," 18 Dec. 2020 In Maine, home to Poland Spring, a water rights group is worried that the new owners will backtrack on agreements with local communities. David Sharp And Dee-ann Durbin,, "Nestle selling bottled-water brands including Poland Spring, Deer Park, Arrowhead for $4.3B," 19 Feb. 2021 New Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon’s decision to backtrack on criminal enhancements will come into play in the hate crime slaying of a praying coronavirus patient. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, "California man charged with killing praying roommate in hospital's COVID-19 ward," 1 Jan. 2021 Cawthorn, who was carrying a firearm in the Capitol during the riot, has now tried to backtrack on some false claims of election fraud without taking responsibility for his role in spreading them. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Call Is Coming From Inside the House (and Senate)," 13 Jan. 2021 The reaction caused WhatsApp to backtrack on its plans. Anchorage Daily News, "Far-right groups move online conversations from social media to chat apps - and out of view of law enforcement," 15 Jan. 2021 Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those communications as part of a deal to cooperate with then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller; Flynn then tried to backtrack on that deal throughout 2020 with the Trump administration’s support. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Most Unpardonable Presidential Power," 2 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for backtrack

Time Traveler

The first known use of backtrack was in 1870

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Statistics for backtrack

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Backtrack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce backtrack (audio) \
backtracked; backtracking

Kids Definition of backtrack

: to go back over a course or a path

More from Merriam-Webster on backtrack

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for backtrack

Nglish: Translation of backtrack for Spanish Speakers

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