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

And then backtracked, refusing to sign up to the mutual information-sharing agreement backed by almost everyone else. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, "Trump discovers global cooperation isn’t so bad—at least on taxing corporate giants," 10 June 2019 Shackleton—not fully trusting that Hurley wouldn’t backtrack and fetch them—made him destroy them on the ice. The Atlantic, "What Lost Treasure Would You Most Like to Find?," 14 June 2019 In the end, Trump seems to have failed to strike a deal, backtracked on his threat to lift tariffs, and still claimed victory. Heather Timmons, Quartz, "The Mexico deal is a triumph of Trump’s “speak loudly, carry tiny stick” diplomacy," 11 June 2019 When most Tory leadership candidates instantly said the health service was not for sale, Mr Trump backtracked. The Economist, "Donald Trump’s visit to Britain goes well—at least for him," 6 June 2019 Scientists at both networks used models to backtrack weather patterns that carried CFC-11 to their observation posts. John Fialka, Scientific American, "Mystery Solved: Warming Superpollutant Tracked to China," 23 May 2019 Now that Kylie Jenner has backtracked on her rule about not posting photos of Stormi Webster on social media, the makeup mogul's baby is back to giving some serious attitude on Instagram. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Stormi Webster Got Woken Up By Kylie Jenner, and She’s Pretty Mad About It," 16 Sep. 2018 Under scrutiny, Johnson started backtracking, and admitted the text could be a joke. Marshall Cohen, CNN, "Five times an incendiary pro-Trump claim on Russia fell flat," 19 May 2018 Now, about two years later, Microsoft apparently has backtracked further. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft Paint has been given another reprieve," 23 Apr. 2019

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

6 Jul 2019

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 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

What made you want to look up backtrack? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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