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

Examples of tailback in a Sentence

stuck in a five-mile tailback on the southbound carriageway

Recent Examples on the Web

Dexter Lawrence is a 340-pounder who might have been the second-most agile player on his high school team behind current Stanford tailback Bryce Love. Andy Staples, SI.com, "Like It or Not, College Football Is Influencing the NFL," 12 July 2018 The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last season with three different tailbacks getting at least 70 carries. Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press, "How will Detroit Lions satisfy stable of running backs?," 23 May 2018 The Baylor transfer gives Houston a physical tailback who could step in immediately as a replacement for Duke Catalon in the backfield. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Houston lands an influx of talent, No. 68 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 20 June 2018 Tony Brooks-James, who split duties as a tailback and kick returner for the team last season, will most likely step into Freeman’s shoes when the season kicks off on Sept. 1. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Oregon counts on Mario Cristobal to build on success, Ducks are No. 75 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 13 June 2018 While help along the interior line might be needed to boost a rushing attack that ranked just 26th in the NFL last year, New York undoubtedly needs new blood at tailback as well. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Three and out: New York Giants' 2018 NFL draft needs, prospects fits," 20 Apr. 2018 The backfield features a pair of talented tailbacks in Tre Walker and Keoni-Kordell Makekau. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Navy is relying on newcomers in key roles, No, 77 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 11 June 2018 The senior tailback had gone from possible goat to all-time hero for Georgia, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship game with one last burst in a game full of them. USA TODAY, "'Dawgs run wild: Georgia beats Oklahoma 54-48 in Rose Bowl," 1 Jan. 2018 Ula Toluta’u, Zach Katoa and Riley Burt will compete with Canada for tailback snaps. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "BYU aims to rebound from tough year, is No. 59 with 2018 preseason college football rankings," 29 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of tailback

1930, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tailback

Dictionary Entries near tailback


Tai Hu




tail barley

tail bay

Statistics for tailback

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tailback

The first known use of tailback was in 1930

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tailback



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

More from Merriam-Webster on tailback

See words that rhyme with tailback

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tailback

Comments on tailback

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


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!