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

Scarborough is now backtracking after facing heavy criticism. Fox News, "Nation marks 17 years since attacks of Sept. 11," 12 Sep. 2018 Lowe said authorities backtracked and found the address the officers were supposed to respond to. Fox News, "Missouri police officer killed responding to 911 call was at wrong house, officials say," 8 Mar. 2018 Credit Suisse’s key trading business, which has negatively surprised in the past, also performed in line with expectations, though Thiam had to backtrack on bullish guidance from February after trading gains fizzled., "Credit Suisse Reaps Wealth Management Rewards as Assets Soar," 25 Apr. 2018 President Donald Trump shifted the gears of his immigration rhetoric a bit Friday, hoping to reclaim the momentum lost after having to publicly backtrack on his administration's family-separation policy. Philip Bump,, "Source for Trump's specious claim of 63,000 immigrant murders? A congressman's blog," 23 June 2018 Police at first blamed Bradford for the shooting but then backtracked and arrested Brown near Atlanta last week after a manhunt. Jay Reeves, The Seattle Times, "Lawyer: Man charged in mall shooting didn’t start the melee," 5 Dec. 2018 There was just one catch: Riders would first have to schlep past the airport, east to Citi Field — the home of the Mets — to catch the AirTrain and then backtrack. New York Times, "Plans for AirTrain to La Guardia Airport Move Ahead Amid Criticism," 25 June 2018 The prime minister later backtracked by promising that Britain’s defence commitments were unconditional. The Economist, "A Brexit row over Galileo could damage broader co-operation on defence," 7 June 2018 Musk has since backtracked, but regulators are not letting this go. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Elon Musk’s tweet about taking Tesla private has triggered a federal lawsuit," 27 Sep. 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

16 Mar 2019

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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 How to pronounce backtrack (audio) \
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

Comments on backtrack

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a shady place in a garden or forest

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