[ bak-ped-l ]
See synonyms for back-pedal on
verb (used without object),back-ped·aled, back-ped·al·ing or (especially British) back-ped·alled, back-ped·al·ling.
  1. to retard the forward motion by pressing backward on the pedal, especially of a bicycle with coaster brakes.

  2. to retreat from or reverse one's previous stand on any matter; shift ground: to back-pedal after severe criticism.

  1. Boxing. to retreat from an opponent, especially by stepping rapidly backward.

Origin of back-pedal

First recorded in 1895–1900

Words Nearby back-pedal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use back-pedal in a sentence

  • Well upset—I cant swim—save the girls—dont blow up the engine—throw us a life preserver—back water—back pedal—put on brakes!

    The Motor Boys Afloat | Clarence Young
  • I am also the inventor of the back pedal braking and coasting bicycle hub, which has been in general use for many years.

    The Invention of the Track Circuit | American Railway Association
  • Several times, when I wanted to slow up, I began to back-pedal, forgetting that I wasn't on my bicycle.

British Dictionary definitions for back-pedal


verb-pedals, -pedalling or -pedalled or US -pedals, -pedaling or -pedaled (intr)
  1. to turn the pedals of a bicycle backwards

  2. to retract or modify a previous opinion, principle, etc

  1. boxing to take backward steps

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