[ bak-speys ]
/ ˈbækˌspeɪs /

verb (used without object), back·spaced, back·spac·ing.

to shift the carriage or typing element of a typewriter one space backward by depressing a special key.
Computers. to move the cursor, printhead, etc., toward the beginning of the data.


the space made by backspacing.
Also called back·spac·er, backspace key. the labeled key on a typewriter or computer keyboard used for backspacing.

Nearby words

  1. backslapping,
  2. backslash,
  3. backslide,
  4. backsliding,
  5. backsource,
  6. backspin,
  7. backsplash,
  8. backsplice,
  9. backstab,
  10. backstabber

Origin of backspace Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for backspace


/ (ˈbækˌspeɪs) /


to move a (typewriter carriage) backwards


a typewriter key that effects such a movement
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 backspace



also back-space, 1899, in reference to keyboarding, from back (adv.) + space.

We have had the pleasure of examining one of the 1899 model Hammond typewriters, with the new back-space key. This new feature is certainly an improvement in the machine. ["The Phonetic Journal," March 11, 1899]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper