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 Capital & Main Alhambra leaders backtracked on a public speaking rule change amid allegations of squashing free speech. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: California rewrites the rules of employment," 12 Sep. 2019 Trump voiced support for universal background checks after the shootings but backtracked after a phone call with LaPierre. Washington Post, "Gun owners look beyond the NRA for representation," 1 Sep. 2019 Castro articulated a real divide, but Biden also described his plan largely accurately and did not appear to backtrack on his earlier answers in a significant way. Benjy Sarlin, NBC News, "What was going on between Biden and Castro on health care?," 13 Sep. 2019 As Harris’s backtracking on busing made clear, no one is seriously considering resurrecting the deeply unpopular policies of the 1970s. John Mccormack, National Review, "Why Kamala Harris Is Fading in the Democratic Primary," 21 Aug. 2019 Now some are backtracking on their controversial policies. Matt Mcfarland, CNN, "Tipping your food delivery person may actually be helping a big company," 29 July 2019 Thankfully, hours after the initial reports, Zoom backtracked and issued a new fix to solve underlying vulnerability. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Security News this Week: Palantir Manual Shows How Law Enforcement Tracks Families," 13 July 2019 Ten days after signaling an almost complete withdrawal from physical stores, the company backtracked and said more locations would stay open than planned. Dana Hull, The Seattle Times, "Tesla just made it harder to buy its cheapest $35,000 electric car," 12 Apr. 2019 But Trump has backtracked after expressing support for background checks and other measures., "Ninety percent of poll respondents said they were in favor of requiring background checks,," 10 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for backtrack

Time Traveler

The first known use of backtrack was in 1870

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Statistics for backtrack

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Backtrack.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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How to pronounce backtrack (audio)

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

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