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.

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

British Dictionary definitions for backspace



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