[ bak-ped-l ]
/ ˈbækˌpɛd l /
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verb (used without object), back-ped·aled, back-ped·al·ing or (especially British) back-ped·alled, back-ped·al·ling.
to retard the forward motion by pressing backward on the pedal, especially of a bicycle with coaster brakes.
to retreat from or reverse one's previous stand on any matter; shift ground: to back-pedal after severe criticism.
Boxing. to retreat from an opponent, especially by stepping rapidly backward.
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Origin of back-pedal
First recorded in 1895–1900
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use back-pedal in a sentence
When I credit her for discovering Jennifer Lawrence in casting her as Ree Dolly, she smiles bashfully, before backpedaling a bit.Life After ‘Winter’s Bone’: Debra Granik on Finding J. Law and the Plight of the Female Director|Marlow Stern|October 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Maybe the Obama administration, instead of merely backpedaling reactively, could support these voices pro-actively as well.The Uganda Ruling is Good For Everyone But Gays|Jay Michaelson|August 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And, unlike Booker, Clinton is unlikely to be cowed into backpedaling by the White House.Bill Clinton: Two-Edged Sword for President Obama|Michelle Cottle|June 2, 2012|DAILY BEAST
By July, however, Italy was backpedaling as the rebels gained power.Italy’s Next Act in Libya|Barbie Latza Nadeau|August 23, 2011|DAILY BEAST
Now, a year later, Cornyn is backpedaling as fast as he can.The Charlie Crist Blame Game|Benjamin Sarlin|April 29, 2010|DAILY BEAST
British Dictionary definitions for back-pedal
verb -pedals, -pedalling or -pedalled or US -pedals, -pedaling or -pedaled (intr)
to turn the pedals of a bicycle backwards
to retract or modify a previous opinion, principle, etc
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