tail·​back | \ ˈtāl-ˌbak \

Definition of tailback

1 : the offensive football back farthest from the line of scrimmage
2 British : a line of vehicles caused by a traffic slowdown or stoppage

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Examples of tailback in a Sentence

stuck in a five-mile tailback on the southbound carriageway

Recent Examples on the Web

Seattle had a basic three-receiver formation with Wilson in the shotgun and tailback Chris Carson flanked to his right, about a half-yard behind. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks Play of the Week: David Moore’s second TD epitomized everything that worked vs. the Rams," 9 Oct. 2018 Johnson supplanted Pettway as the Tigers' star tailback. USA TODAY, "Malzahn: Future bright for Auburn after up-and-down season," 2 Jan. 2018 The talented tailback finished second on the team in rushing yards (604) behind fellow senior David Hood. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Temple is No. 50 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 8 July 2018 Sophomore tailback Jonathan Taylor gives the Badgers an every-down workhorse with breakaway speed, and junior Quintez Cephus—who was limited this spring after a right leg injury cut short his sophomore season—has all-conference potential. Chris Johnson, SI.com, "Post-Spring Top 25: Resetting the Pecking Order at the Offseason's Midpoint," 10 May 2018 Scott became the Bulldogs' primary tailback his senior season with 1,047 yards on 183 carries and eight touchdowns. Larry Holder, NOLA.com, "Think Aaron Stecker with new Saints RB Boston Scott," 28 Apr. 2018 Seattle has four other tailbacks on its roster — Chris Carson, Mike Davis, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks running back J.D. McKissic officially returns to practice Monday," 19 Nov. 2018 As a junior, Washington could potentially be the starting tailback the next two seasons. Kirk Kenney, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego State gets verbal commitment from Monte Vista RB Jahmon McClendon," 22 June 2018 The Saints nabbed Louisiana Tech tailback Boston Scott with pick No. Larry Holder, NOLA.com, "Think Aaron Stecker with new Saints RB Boston Scott," 28 Apr. 2018

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

1930, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near tailback


Tai Hu




tail barley

tail bay

Statistics for tailback

Last Updated

27 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for tailback

The first known use of tailback was in 1930

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English Language Learners Definition of tailback

American football : a player on offense who runs with the ball and blocks

: a situation in which the flow of traffic is blocked and a long line of vehicles forms

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tailback

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