tail·​back | \ ˈtāl-ˌbak How to pronounce tailback (audio) \

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

If the Pac-12’s top quarterback were to throw four touchdowns during a 9 a.m. game — if the top tailback were to rush for 200 yards — the highlights would be repeated, all day and night, on the ESPN and Fox studio shows. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Pac-12 football: The Hotline’s most radical schedule suggestion yet (play early … very early)," 6 June 2019 Of the 10 Heisman-winning tailbacks from 1979-99 who’ve been selected for the hall, the average gap from Heisman Trophy to induction was 16.8 years. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Is CU Buffs great Rashaan Salaam a victim of a “personal vendetta” among College Football Hall of Fame voters?," 5 June 2019 The Cougars are unproven at running back behind James Williams and Borghi, so Thomas could take on a Keith Harrington-like role in 2019 — or use his redshirt and slide in next to Borghi as a secondary tailback in 2020. 4. Theo Lawson, The Seattle Times, "NCAA early signing day: These five WSU recruits could make an instant impact for the Cougars," 17 Dec. 2018 But the Seahawks got 131 yards on their 14 other carries by their tailbacks, including a 20-yard run by Penny and a 23-yarder by Carson, each on runs around the end. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "The Final Word: Bob Condotta breaks down what went right in the Seahawks’ thumping of the 49ers," 4 Dec. 2018 Lindsay’s departure leaves the Buffaloes looking for their next great tailback. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "After tough 2017 season, Colorado is No. 105 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 14 May 2018 Grigson, whose Colts were arguably just a tailback away from Super Bowl contention, bet that a change of scenery and a backfield shared with Andrew Luck would flip Richardson’s switch. Andy Benoit, SI.com, "True NFL Draft Grades: 2014 Draft, Four Years Later," 8 May 2018 And indeed, the 49ers contained Seattle on zone read runs by the running backs — Seattle had just 22 yards on 11 zone read runs from the tailbacks, runs that typically go between the tackles — according to Pro Football Focus. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "The Final Word: Bob Condotta breaks down what went right in the Seahawks’ thumping of the 49ers," 4 Dec. 2018 Another approach both coaches take is to emphasize the tailback in the passing game. Andy Benoit, SI.com, "Sean McVay vs. Kyle Shanahan: The NFL’s Best New Coaching Rivalry," 18 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.

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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

14 Jun 2019

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

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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