verb (used without object)

to return over the same course or route.
to withdraw from an undertaking, position, etc.; reverse a policy.

Origin of backtrack

An Americanism dating back to 1715–25; back2 + track Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for backtracking

Contemporary Examples of backtracking

  • On the other hand, the backtracking and clarifications obviously undermined that.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Abbas Stays Put On Refugees

    Hussein Ibish

    November 5, 2012

Historical Examples of backtracking

  • If we did, we'd have to do a lot of backtracking to get back to this dead star.

    Islands of Space

    John W Campbell

  • Backtracking ourselves, we found where she had left the road and had hidden behind a big rock while we had passed.

    I Married a Ranger

    Dama Margaret Smith

  • In backtracking along the highway, they encountered two extensive patches of flood water.

    Dan Carter Cub Scout

    Mildred A. Wirt

British Dictionary definitions for backtracking


verb (intr)

to return by the same route by which one has come
to retract or reverse one's opinion, action, policy, etc
Derived Formsbacktracking, noun
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 backtracking



"retrace one's steps," figuratively, by 1896, from literal sense, with reference to hunted foxes, from back (adv.) + track (v.). Related: Backtracked; backtracking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper