pig·gy·back | \ˈpi-gē-ˌbak \
variants: or less commonly \ˈpi-gē-, ˈpi-kə- \

Definition of piggyback 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1 : up on the back and shoulders

2 : on or as if on the back of another especially : on a railroad flatcar


variants: or less commonly pickaback

Definition of piggyback (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : the act of carrying piggyback

2 : the movement of loaded truck trailers on railroad flatcars


variants: or less commonly pickaback

Definition of piggyback (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : marked by being up on the shoulders and back a child needs hugging, tussling, and piggyback rides— Benjamin Spock

2 : carried or transported piggyback: such as

a : of or relating to the hauling of truck trailers on railroad flatcars

b : being or relating to something carried into space as an extra load by a vehicle (such as a spacecraft)


variants: or less commonly pickaback
piggybacked also pickabacked; piggybacking also pickabacking; piggybacks also pickabacks

Definition of piggyback (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to carry up on the shoulders and back

2 : to haul (something, such as a truck trailer) by railroad car

3 : to set up or cause to function in conjunction with something larger, more important, or already in existence or operation

intransitive verb

: to function or be carried on or as if on the back of another

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Did You Know?


Have you ever wondered where the porcine part of piggyback comes from? Well, it's not from the pigs themselves. The adverb piggyback likely began as "a pick pack." Another early form of the word is pickback, evidence of which can be found in the still-extant variant pickaback. The adverb piggyback dates to the mid-16th century, and the noun-referring to an act of carrying piggyback-was in use by the end of that same century. The adjective piggyback, as in "piggyback ride," didn't enter the language until the 18th century, and the now-common verb piggyback didn't piggyback on the others until the late 19th century.

Examples of piggyback in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fans at the stadium went crazy, and the game's hero gave Lionel Messi a piggyback ride around the field to celebrate. Charlotte Carroll, SI.com, "Watch: Argentina Fans in Buenos Aires Lose Their Minds After Marcos Rojo's Goal," 26 June 2018 The first featured Ariana receiving a piggyback ride from Pete. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Pete Davidson Wishes Happy Birthday to Ariana Grande on Instagram," 26 June 2018 After, O’Rourke ascended the stage with his daughter, Molly, riding piggyback. Michael Hoinski, GQ, "Beto in the Outfield," 19 Apr. 2018 The second touchdown was a 60-yard run by quarterback Feleipe Franks, who celebrated by punting the ball into the stands and then jumping onto the back of defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and getting a piggyback ride across the end zone. Mike Bianchi, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Dan Mullen turns Gators spring game into fun-filled spring fling," 15 Apr. 2018 That toughness and durability was on display last week as Lee caught a simple hitch route during a morning session and proceeded to give half of the scout team a piggyback ride for an additional five yards. AL.com, "Versatile Donnie Lee embracing new role on UAB offense," 30 Mar. 2018 Then, the largest piggyback ride ever, with the 6-6 Gronk jumping upon the 7-1 Shaq’s shoulders. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Shaq’s threw a party Ultra weekend. Some dancing was ri-Gronk-ulous (and shirtless) | Miami Herald," 25 Mar. 2018 In a clever move, Place’s new visual search piggybacks on its original mission to show users how Ikea furniture will look in their home. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Ikea’s AR app now lets you search with your phone camera," 22 Mar. 2018 The local government and library fund would get $600,000 less and transit authorities, which can apply piggyback sales taxes, would lose $4 million. Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com, "Ohio lawmakers approve permanent sales tax holiday," 22 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Another result is that the mitigation bankers would build a 3-mile truck road, piggybacking on an existing dirt lane crossing the conservation area. Kevin Spear, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Florida plan for Lake County sand mine provokes residents' ire," 22 June 2018 The lab’s many collaborators have helped them at little to no cost or allowed them to piggyback onto other trips, all in the name of research. Rebecca Robbins, STAT, "A daredevil researcher’s latest quest: to restore sight lost to glaucoma using virtual reality," 2 July 2018 As People reported, other Twitter users have piggybacked off of Matlow's tweet with variations of their own. Emily Wang, Teen Vogue, "Ivanka Trump's Gown Draws Comparisons to Blankets Used by Detained Immigrant Children," 20 June 2018 So this reads like Stone and Caputo are trying to piggyback on Trumpworld’s larger effort to spin the Russia probe as an FBI / deep state setup, in hopes of excusing a meeting that looks very bad for them. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Roger Stone suddenly admits to meeting with a Russian national to seek dirt on Hillary Clinton," 17 June 2018 Past researchers have also studied these atoms a lot—so Ni’s group could piggyback on lasers developed to manipulate the atoms. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "Chemists Orchestrate the Molecular Union of Two Single Atoms," 27 Apr. 2018 The City Council pushed back its second public hearing and adoption of the budget until the July 3 meeting in order to piggyback the discussion on options to bring in some money. Karen Pearlman, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Lemon Grove to consider various ways to make money," 26 June 2018 The channel behind Fixer Upper and Property Brothers is piggybacking off of Shark Week's buzz, launching its own Beach Week series of programming. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "HGTV Is Getting In On Shark Week With Its Own "Beach Week" Series Of Shows," 25 June 2018 People dislike sequels, which are often uninspiring messes piggybacking off the popularity of the original. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The F-35’s New, Much Better Nickname is “Panther”," 21 May 2018

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


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1784, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1895, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for piggyback


alteration of earlier a pick pack, of unknown origin

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Phrases Related to piggyback

piggyback ride

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Time Traveler for piggyback

The first known use of piggyback was in 1565

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More Definitions for piggyback



English Language Learners Definition of piggyback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act of carrying someone on your back or shoulders



English Language Learners Definition of piggyback (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be carried by or connected to something else or to cause (something) to be carried by or connected to something else

pig·gy·back | \ˈpi-gē-ˌbak \

Kids Definition of piggyback

: on the back or shoulders The child wanted a piggyback ride.

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Comments on piggyback

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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