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[bak-trak] /ˈbækˌtræk/
verb (used without object)
to return over the same course or route.
to withdraw from an undertaking, position, etc.; reverse a policy.
Origin of backtrack
An Americanism dating back to 1715-25; back2 + track Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for back-track
Historical Examples
  • "Now right about face and back-track uptown," ordered the officer.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • That was at length resolved to his satisfaction; and he rode slowly in the back-track.

    The Boy Hunters Captain Mayne Reid
  • It was certainly the path of a war-party of Indians on the back-track.

    The War Trail Mayne Reid
  • Now that he had mounted and taken the back-track, the cause must be different.

    The Lone Ranche Captain Mayne Reid
  • I could not cross the street and the only thing to do was to back-track.

    Outwitting the Hun Pat O'Brien
  • One day's rations were issued and the boys took the back-track for Picolata.

    Company G

    A. R. (Albert Rowe) Barlow
  • The ingine has to side-step and back-track about eight times to get up the grade.

    Heart's Desire

    Emerson Hough
  • Then you can follow over the pass and hit Green Valley, or you can back-track for the Ranger's cabin and for home.

    Pluck on the Long Trail

    Edwin L. Sabin
  • “No matter about this shod horse and his back-track,” he continues, once more heading his own animal to the trail.

    Gaspar the Gaucho Mayne Reid
  • Several times the horse ran over him, the turkey on these occasions turning and taking the back-track.

    The Boy Hunters Captain Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for back-track


verb (intransitive)
to return by the same route by which one has come
to retract or reverse one's opinion, action, policy, etc
Derived Forms
backtracking, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for back-track



"retrace one's steps," figuratively, by 1896, from literal sense, with reference to hunted foxes, from back (adv.) + track (v.). Related: Backtracked; backtracking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for back-track


Related Terms


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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