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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of tailback in a Sentence

stuck in a five-mile tailback on the southbound carriageway

Recent Examples on the Web

The top two returning tailbacks from last season – Christopher Brown Jr. and Marcel Dancy – have a combined 51 carries for 229 yards. Matt Murschel, orlandosentinel.com, "2019 College Football Rankings: No. 58 California strives to build on solid 2018 season," 29 June 2019 Replacing left tackle Andre Dillard and the durability of tailback Max Borghi are two pressing questions facing Washington State. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Hotline newsletter: Website ranks the Pac-12 football coaches, and the Hotline weighs in," 17 June 2019 Miami’s five other 2019 draft picks — defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, offensive tackle Isaiah Prince, fullback Chandler Cox and tailback Myles Gaskins — agreed to terms before May’s rookie minicamp. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Miami Dolphins agree to deal with third-round pick Michael Deiter," 14 June 2019 Jordan Cronkrite, a transfer from Florida, is the most experienced tailback on a roster. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "USF moves on without Quinton Flowers, Bulls are No. 72 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 16 June 2018 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

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

12 Jul 2019

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tailback

Rhyming Dictionary: 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).


food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!