backpedal

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

back +‎ pedal

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

backpedal (third-person singular simple present backpedals, present participle (US) backpedaling or (UK) backpedalling, simple past and past participle (US) backpedaled or (UK) backpedalled)

  1. (intransitive) To pedal backwards on a bicycle.
  2. (intransitive) To step backwards.
    The player had to backpedal before catching the ball.
  3. (intransitive, idiomatic) To distance oneself from an earlier claim or statement; back off from an idea.
    Though initially adopting a hard-line stance, the politician soon started to backpedal.

Synonyms[edit]

  • (distance oneself from an earlier claim or statement): climb down