Definition of backpedal in US English:



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  • 1Move the pedals of a bicycle backward (formerly to brake).

    • ‘Remember, back-pedal to brake (counter-intuitive to my brain I think, but I managed).’
    • ‘The main difference between mine and the one pictured above is that mine doesn't have hand brakes (you have to back pedal to brake, just like on a training bike) and on the back, it has a snazzy pair of hot pink saddle bags (waterproof of course).’
    • ‘She back-pedaled to brake as she approached them.’
    1. 1.1 Reverse one's previous action or opinion.
      ‘you've criticized him for backpedaling on budget reform’
      • ‘‘It's just a passing remark,’ he hurriedly back-pedalled, sensing something wrong.’
      • ‘The Wiseacre back-pedalled on his promise… ‘If any challenger is successful, I hereby declare that I will support him or her in their use of these titles’.’
      • ‘This forced him to back-pedal and promise to crack down on corporate pillagers, to publicly soften his environmental obstructionism, and to promise to pump more funds into housing, education and job programs.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, the only East European country to sign up has been Romania (and the Romanian government is now back-pedalling, claiming that it was intimidated by Washington).’
      • ‘Now, I'm guessing you'll just back-pedal and say, ‘I was just kidding.’’
      • ‘Due to these protests, the government was forced to back-pedal, creating enormous pressure as the time limit for fulfilling EU conditions nears.’
      • ‘‘Lets not talk about it,’ he said, back-pedalling hastily.’
      • ‘Of course he'll try to back-pedal, tacking a spectacular cop-out ending that leaves the central family intact and his final upbeat words nonsensically used as a coda.’
      • ‘That had him back-pedalling from his earlier claims.’
      • ‘It seems to me there's been an unforeseen outcome and they're trying to back-pedal.’
      • ‘The MP in question now feels he has bitten off rather more than he can swallow, let alone chew, and is now back-pedalling frantically.’
      • ‘The minister's refusal to back-pedal on his smoking ban earlier this year raised the hackles of publicans nationwide who claimed it damaged their business enormously.’
      • ‘If that sounds like back-pedalling after the inflated self-opinions we're more used to hearing, Noel says not.’
      • ‘Yes there will be little bits of ups and downs as corporate America back-pedals on IT budgets.’
      • ‘However, it later back-pedalled, saying that it wants new rules to enable workers to pay contributions into personal pensions directly from their wages.’
      • ‘It seems that the broadcasting company for its own reasons chose to back-pedal on this issue, given the article that ran the same day the documentary was aired.’
      • ‘‘Oh, don't get me wrong,’ she back-pedals, ‘I'm enjoying working on this show, but… I don't know how you all cope, getting scared witless week in and week out.’’
      • ‘All academics present agreed with that sentiment, so the Professor had to back-pedal furiously to preserve his reputation for holding only approved, peer-reviewed, ideologically sound opinions.’
      • ‘This year, he back-pedalled on this particular topic.’
      • ‘It would appear that, having seen the response to his support of the revised peace plan, he is now frantically back-pedalling in an effort to have everyone love him.’
      change one's mind, change one's opinion, go into reverse, do an about-face, do a u-turn, row back, shift one's ground, sing a different song, have second thoughts, reconsider, climb down
      renege on, back down on, go back on, back out of, fail to honour, withdraw, backtrack on, row back on, take back, abandon, default on
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Move hastily backward.
      ‘backpedaling furiously, he flipped a perfect pass’
      • ‘It was a long ball over the top and I was trying to back-pedal but I read it wrong and suddenly he was in to score.’
      • ‘But in the ‘return’ the Havies dished out superb open rugby with their entire back division co-ordinating well and had the soldiers back-pedalling.’
      • ‘And they were unable to cope with his driven line-outs and rolling mauls, which constantly had the home pack back-pedalling furiously.’
      • ‘The goal changed the face of the game as the hosts finally began to look like the Unibond title challengers they are and make City back-pedal.’
      • ‘He ran on to the rebound, but again he was thwarted as the keeper back-pedalled furiously to complete his solo stand.’
      • ‘The crowd was roaring with laughter, advice was shouted to the Jaffna team to tackle, but they, with the previous penalty in mind continued to back-pedal, keeping 10 yards in front of the man with the ball!’
      • ‘He back-pedalled at deep mid-on in an attempt to take a catch but pulled up lame instead.’
      • ‘The former Aberdeen striker drilled in a 45-yard shot which forced the Frenchman to furiously back-pedal and tip the ball over the bar.’
      • ‘At the same time, Leeds back-pedalled and the style of football they adopted made them desperate to watch.’
      • ‘The player, back-pedalling furiously, did wonderfully to prevent the ball dropping in under his crossbar.’
      • ‘The first half was poor with one or two goalmouth scrambles and the nearest Corinthians came was when a cross-cum-shot from one player forced the keeper to back-pedal to tip the ball on to the crossbar.’
      • ‘There was a spell in the second quarter when Cork were back-pedalling but otherwise they were composed and strong.’
      • ‘His catch and break from deep was crucial and once the centres had combined to send him running free, the Italians were back-pedalling furiously.’
      • ‘As the Frenchman back-pedals furiously, the ball lands on the roof of the goal.’
      • ‘Every time he had the ball at his feet he had the Exeter defence back-pedalling and the watching crowd on the edge of their seats.’
      • ‘The Americans' strategy of playing balls either over the top of the Germans' defence or down the flanks continually had the three-time world champions back-pedalling, exposing their lack of pace.’
      • ‘She led four out, but was struggling approaching the home turn and was soon back-pedalling.’
      • ‘And up on Henman Hill they will set up a camp festooned with all those flags and that same fervour seemingly made redundant after that player back-pedalled ignominiously into his own net.’
      • ‘He tried to back-pedal, but his ankle turned and he fell.’
      • ‘As those in front saw what he was waving in his right hand, they tried to back-pedal, but their escape was blocked by other nosy people coming up behind them.’