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pig·​gy·​back ˈpi-gē-ˌbak How to pronounce piggyback (audio)
variants or less commonly pickaback
ˈpi-gē- How to pronounce piggyback (audio)
: up on the back and shoulders
: on or as if on the back of another
especially : on a railroad flatcar


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variants or less commonly pickaback
: the act of carrying piggyback
: the movement of loaded truck trailers on railroad flatcars


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variants or less commonly pickaback
: marked by being up on the shoulders and back
a child needs hugging, tussling, and piggyback ridesBenjamin Spock
: carried or transported piggyback: such as
: of or relating to the hauling of truck trailers on railroad flatcars
: being or relating to something carried into space as an extra load by a vehicle (such as a spacecraft)


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

transitive verb

: to carry up on the shoulders and back
: to haul (something, such as a truck trailer) by railroad car
: 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

Did you know?

Piggyback was first used in the 16th century as an adverb, meaning "up on the back and shoulders" (as in "the child was carried piggyback"). It comes from a phrase of unknown origin, a pick pack. There is also the less-common adverb pickaback. The verb piggyback didn't piggyback on the adverb until the 19th century.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Soft, fuzzy green leaves are only part of the appeal of piggyback plant. Sheryl Geerts, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Jan. 2023 This gift comes in a handful of pretty pastels along with neutrals, and is designed to ride piggyback on a smartphone. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 13 Dec. 2022 Wells said he’s also received insight from Means, catcher Robinson Chirinos and right-hander Jorge López, who is also in the mix to be used as a piggyback pitcher. Nathan Ruiz, Baltimore Sun, 31 Mar. 2022 Top Gun: Maverick even closed out its beach-football game with a piggyback, demonstrating that its aviators had finally bonded when Miles Teller hoisted up Lewis Pullman, shaking a ball triumphantly overhead in the fading light of the day. Vulture, 13 Sep. 2022 The carousel included sweet snaps of the model giving the tot a piggyback ride through the building and showing him the paintings. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 Dec. 2022 And once Molly became curious about Peggy, the two animals started to form a friendship, which included rolling around on the ground together, Peggy giving Molly piggyback rides, and sharing nap sessions. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2022 Ensberg said the Astros essentially doubled their inventory of starters by using a piggyback system; that is, two pitchers working four innings apiece each time through the rotation. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, 3 Nov. 2022 Their on-stage kiss fake-out was bad enough, but when Meloni is out here posting photos of himself giving Hargitay a post-event piggyback ride, which is a classic boyfriend move, what are we supposed to think? Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 20 Sep. 2022
Trials in mice showed that this piggyback approach increased the ability of the immune system to recognize the toxin. Lindsey Konkel, Discover Magazine, 25 Jan. 2010 But Padres starter Mike Clevinger, who went only three innings in a return start from the injury list, and relievers Martinez, who ate four innings in a piggyback role, Tim Hill and Taylor Rogers were in total command the rest of the way. Curt Hogg, Journal Sentinel, 5 June 2022 Mark Hamill also celebrated his Star Wars costar's birthday on Sunday by re-posting their infamous piggyback picture. Glenn Garner, PEOPLE.com, 10 Apr. 2022 Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy previously mentioned the possibility using a piggyback approach for starters as pitchers continue to ramp up. Meghan Montemurro, chicagotribune.com, 24 Mar. 2022 He is scheduled to start, followed by lefty Tyler Alexander out of the bullpen in a piggyback role. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 28 Aug. 2021 Zimmermann could be used in a piggyback role following a starter with a limited pitch count, much like how left-hander Daniel Norris enters after right-hander Michael Fulmer is done, though Gardenhire didn't commit to it Saturday. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 13 Sep. 2020
Many of these studies piggyback on tests run on epilepsy patients. Amy Barth, Discover Magazine, 29 Mar. 2010 But that show was much more in that traditional true-crime vein, and forcing this story to piggyback on the title and the genre is unfair and a little marginalizing. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Feb. 2023 Neuroscientists have found that our thrifty brains piggyback the experience of emotional pain in the same location. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 25 Aug. 2022 Globalized commerce using ubiquitous shipping containers also means that drugs can piggyback on legitimate cargo. David Luhnow, WSJ, 21 Jan. 2022 Tice notes that to see a major impact in subscriptions, a Golden Globe moment would probably have to piggyback on something else to earn enough buzz. Toni Fitzgerald, Forbes, 6 Jan. 2023 Quordle is just one of many spinoffs that tried to piggyback off of the success of Wordle, which had users posting their scores across Twitter and competing with friends to solve the word of the day with the least guesses. Emma Roth, The Verge, 22 Jan. 2023 Now, 15 years later, the same group appears to be trying a new twist on that trick: hijacking the USB infections of other hackers to piggyback on their infections and stealthily choose their spying targets. WIRED, 5 Jan. 2023 Researchers can sometimes piggyback off existing or decommissioned telecommunications cables. Carolyn Wilke, Discover Magazine, 28 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History



alteration of earlier a pick pack, of unknown origin

First Known Use


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

Time Traveler
The first known use of piggyback was in 1565


Dictionary Entries Near piggyback

Cite this Entry

“Piggyback.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piggyback. Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adverb or adjective
pig·​gy·​back ˈpig-ē-ˌbak How to pronounce piggyback (audio)
variants also pickaback
ˈpig-ē-ˌbak How to pronounce piggyback (audio)
: on the back or shoulders
: on a railroad flatcar


2 of 2 noun
: the act of carrying piggyback

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