View synonyms for pedal


[ ped-l peed-l ]


  1. a foot-operated lever used to control certain mechanisms, as automobiles, or to play or modify the sounds of certain musical instruments, as pianos, organs, or harps.
  2. a leverlike part worked by the foot to supply power in various mechanisms, as the bicycle.
  3. Music.
    1. a foot-operated keyboard, as on an organ or harpsichord.
    2. any of the keys of such a keyboard.

verb (used without object)

, ped·aled, ped·al·ing or (especially British) ped·alled, ped·al·ling.
  1. to work or use the pedals, as in playing an organ or propelling a bicycle.

verb (used with object)

, ped·aled, ped·al·ing or (especially British) ped·alled, ped·al·ling.
  1. to work the pedals of (an organ, bicycle, etc.).


  1. of or relating to a foot or the feet.
  2. of or relating to a pedal or pedals.
  3. using pedals:

    a pedal mechanism.



/ ˈpiːdəl /


  1. of or relating to the foot or feet



/ ˈpɛdəl /


    1. any foot-operated lever or other device, esp one of the two levers that drive the chain wheel of a bicycle, the foot brake, clutch control, or accelerator of a car, one of the levers on an organ controlling deep bass notes, or one of the levers on a piano used to create a muted effect or sustain tone
    2. ( as modifier )

      a pianist's pedal technique

      a pedal cycle


  1. to propel (a bicycle, boat, etc) by operating the pedals
  2. intr to operate the pedals of an organ, piano, etc, esp in a certain way
  3. to work (pedals of any kind)

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Word History and Origins

Origin of pedal1

1605–15; (< French pédale ) < Latin pedālis of the feet. See ped- 2, -al 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of pedal1

C17: from Latin pedālis, from pēs foot

Origin of pedal2

C17: from Latin pedālis; see pedal ²

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Idioms and Phrases

see soft pedal .

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Example Sentences

This gives the car a quicker response to the accelerator pedal, it turns up the volume on the Enterprise-at-warp effect, and it turns the instrument panel orange as a reminder of the serious business at hand.

We rented road bikes from Lahaina’s West Maui Cycles, a full-service and friendly shop, for an 18-mile pedal to lovely Napili Bay and back.

There’s also one-pedal driving, which automatically applies the brakes just by lifting your foot off the accelerator.

We have to continue to put our foot on the pedal, we have to continue to push the issue because we’re not that type of team where we can just get comfortable, flip on a switch and just compete.

The next day, pedal 32 miles south along Highway 101 to Carpinteria State Beach, the closest place to pitch a tent near the infamous Rincon Point.

I strain and push and pedal and wonder, “When will this end?”

I push down on the pedal with my right leg and instead of propelling myself forward, I topple over sideways.

And when the AHA is reintroduced in parliament, as it inevitably will be, he can soft-pedal.

He'd pedal a few yards, then the handle bars would get away from him.

And together, they can successfully pedal a bike down a rather busy city street.

That is one of the places that when the pianists come to, they get their foot hard on to the pedal and hold on to it—Herr Gott!

I had played that study to Tausig, and he found no fault with my use of the pedal; so I sat down thinking I could do it right.

The pedal keys were almost invariably straight and the pedal boards flat.

It frequently leads to a player upsetting his Pedal combination when he has no desire to do so.

Metal buttons or pistons located on the toe piece of the pedal-board were introduced by the ingenious Casavant of Canada.


Related Words

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More About Pedal

What does pedal mean?

A pedal is a foot-operated lever that controls some kind of mechanism. The most common kinds of pedals are those on a bicycle, the brake pedal and gas pedal (accelerator) in a car, and the pedals used in musical instruments like pianos and organs.

Pedal can also be a verb meaning to operate a pedal, as in You’d better pedal faster! In American English, the past tense is spelled pedaled and the continuous tense is spelled pedaling. In British English, as with many other words, the l is doubled: pedalled and pedalling.

Example: When I was a kid, I liked to pedal my bike as fast as I could and then take my feet off the pedals and watch them keep spinning.

Where does pedal come from?

The first records of pedal come from the 1600s. It comes from the Latin pedālis, meaning “of the feet,” from pēs, meaning “foot.” The root pēs and its variants ped- and pedi- give us a lot of words related to feet, such as pedestrian (someone who travels by foot) and pedicure.

There are a lot of different kinds of pedals, but they all have at least one thing in common—they’re made to be operated with the foot.

Most pedals are one of two types. Some are levers that are used to turn a wheel. The pedals on a bicycle power the chain wheel, which then turns the wheels.

Other types of pedals are more like switches: when pressed with the foot, they control another mechanism. The gas pedal in a car is called the gas pedal because it controls the amount of fuel that goes to the engine—the more fuel, the faster the car will go. In a piano, the pedals are used to sustain a tone or create a muted effect. In organs, they’re used to control deep bass tones. Foot-operated pedals can be hooked up to electric guitars to allow the player to change the quality of the sound. Sewing machines use a pedal to control how rapidly the needle moves up and down.

Pedal should not be confused with the verb peddle (meaning “to go from place to place to sell goods”), which is pronounced exactly the same, or the noun petal (as in a flower petal), which has almost the same pronunciation.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to pedal?

  • pedaled (past tense verb, American English spelling)
  • pedalled (past tense verb, British English spelling)
  • pedaling (continuous tense verb, American English spelling)
  • pedalling (continuous tense verb, British English spelling)

What are some words that share a root or word element with pedal

What are some words that often get used in discussing pedal?

What are some words pedal may be commonly confused with?

How is pedal used in real life?

Pedal is a common word and a common thing—there are all kinds of pedals that we use to operate things with our feet.



Try using pedal!

Is pedal used correctly in the following sentence?

When you’re coasting downhill, you should keep your foot on the brake pedal.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




pedagogypedal boat