1. a wall, wire screen, or the like, serving to prevent a ball from going too far beyond the normal playing area.
  2. Baseball. the catcher.
  3. a person or thing that serves as a support, safeguard, or reinforcement: There were technicians on board as backstops to the automated controls.
verb (used without object), back·stopped, back·stop·ping.
  1. to act as a backstop.
verb (used with object), back·stopped, back·stop·ping.
  1. to act as a backstop to: The government agreed to backstop companies that invested in oil exploration.

Origin of backstop

First recorded in 1810–20; back1 + stop
Related formsback·stop·per, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for back-stopped


  1. sport a screen or fence to prevent balls leaving the playing area
  2. a block or catch to prevent excessive backward movement, such as one on the sliding seat of a rowing boat
verb -stops, -stopping or -stopped (tr)
  1. US to provide with backing or support
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

Word Origin and History for back-stopped



1819, in cricket, from back (adj.) + stop. In U.S. baseball, from 1889, "fence behind the catcher;" figurative extension to "catcher on a baseball team" is from 1890. The verb is attested from 1956 in the sense of "support." Related: Backstopped; backstopping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper