Origin of pedal

1605–15; (< French pédale) < Latin pedālis of the feet. See ped-2, -al1
Can be confusedpedal peddle petal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pedalling

Historical Examples of pedalling

  • "It served him jolly well right," she said, pedalling faster.

  • Every pianist of note has, of course, his own style of pedalling.

  • And Jerry put his whole heart into his pedalling and bore her at the top of his speed.

    The Odds

    Ethel M. Dell

  • Lorania was still in the saddle, pedalling from sheer force of habit, and clinging to the handle bars.

  • His breath became audible, his steering unsteady, his pedalling positively ferocious.

British Dictionary definitions for pedalling




  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 pedal cycle; a pianist's pedal technique

verb -als, -alling or -alled or US -als, -aling or -aled

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

Word Origin for pedal

C17: from Latin pedālis; see pedal ²




of or relating to the foot or feet

Word Origin for pedal

C17: from Latin pedālis, from pēs foot
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 pedalling



1610s, "lever (on an organ) worked by foot," from French pédale "feet, trick with the feet," from Italian pedale "treadle, pedal," from Late Latin pedale "(thing) of the foot," neuter of Latin pedalis "of the foot," from pes (genitive pedis) "foot" (see foot (n.)).

Extended to various mechanical contrivances by 1789. Pedal steel guitar is from 1969. Pedal-pushers "type of women's trousers suitable for bicycling" is from 1944.

When college girls took to riding bicycles in slacks, they first rolled up one trouser leg, then rolled up both. This whimsy has now produced a trim variety of long shorts, called "pedal pushers." ["Life," Aug. 28, 1944]



1866 of musical organs, 1888 of bicycles, from pedal (n.). Related: Pedaled; pedaling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for pedalling


[pĕdl, pēdl]


Of or relating to a foot or footlike part.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with pedalling


see soft pedal.

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