Definition of backspace in US English:



  • 1A key on a typewriter or computer keyboard that causes the carriage or cursor to move backward.

    • ‘Right, can you select it, then press backspace?’
    • ‘The backspace and the delete keys don't work on my computer right now because my sister spilled honey all over it.’
    • ‘Yesterday evening Abi lost a bunch of stuff she'd been typing in because she pressed the backspace key when the focus was outside of the editing text box.’
    • ‘The ‘Home’ and ‘End’ keys are placed right above the backspace key instead of the usual position above the arrow keys.’
    • ‘I don't really know if it was worth sharing, and I'm actually sort of regretting it right now, but my backspace key is broken, so whatever I type is staying in the article.’
    • ‘I couldn't keep track of how often I pressed my backspace key or how often I deleted entire sentences and paragraphs because I knew whatever I wanted to say - it just had to be right.’
    • ‘Alright, Sir, do you know where the backspace key is?’
    • ‘Elsewhere, competitors learned they if they answered incorrectly they could press backspace and re-answer questions without any scoring penalty.’
    • ‘There is a ‘home’ and a ‘backspace’ key but no ‘cancel’, the cancel function being tackled by the backspace key when appropriate.’
    • ‘Other times, I swear the hit the backspace key in a ratio of 2: 1.’
    • ‘All of this wasted space could be put to much better use: dedicated home, end, page up, page down keys; a bigger spacebar and shift, return, and backspace keys.’
    • ‘Trouble is, now a couple of my keys are not working so well - probably just misaligned, but my backspace, and my enter and delete and arrow keys don't want to work.’
    • ‘I tapped on the keyboard, pressing the backspace key much more frequent than the other keys.’
    • ‘I accidentally hit the tiny delete key instead of backspace.’
    • ‘As you can see, the keyboard adopts the older ‘small enter key’ layout, in which the backslash is positioned below backspace and above the enter key instead of being flanked by the equal key and backspace.’
    • ‘There is no backspace key in real life, but I am always reaching for one - I get half way through a sentence and then realise that it should have started somewhere else if it is to go where I suddenly realise it wants to.’
    • ‘I've been digging through pictures cursing myself for not documenting my work better, typing the details from my notes then suddenly, I broke the backspace key on my computer.’
  • 2A device on a video recorder or camcorder which produces a slight backward run between shots to eliminate disturbance caused by the interruption of the scanning process.


[no object]
  • Move a typewriter carriage or computer cursor back one or more spaces.

    • ‘If you want to read it, it's a blogspot site, just backspace out ‘mistressmatisse’ in the window up there and type in ‘hatemalepost’.’
    • ‘The telltale signs: writing a few words, then furiously backspacing; paralysis of the hands; an overwhelming desire to check my e-mail, surf the Web, get a soda, anything but confront the blank screen.’
    • ‘I frequently have to backspace out of odd Elizabethan spellings like ‘mouthes’.’
    • ‘The < BS > markers show where I hit the BackSpace key - note that the text I was backspacing over remains in the log.’
    • ‘Because our electric semicolon indented for us, do we have to backspace back to the left column?’
    • ‘Then the thing flows like water, no matter how many times you delete and backspace and tappity-tap forward again.’
    • ‘I was amazed by how well he could carry on a conversation by typing away on his laptop - almost as fast as he could talk - stopping occasionally to backspace and correct a spelling or reconsider a word or phrase.’
    • ‘I then peacefully backspaced through my email and re-wrote.’
    • ‘It's easier to edit - to scratch out a word is easier than backspacing over it.’
    • ‘When no words came, I began typing a nonsensical string of letter and numbers before backspacing the entire last sentence.’
    • ‘He backspaced the word ‘PORN’ and replaced it with the word ‘VIOLENCE’.’
    • ‘If you use the computer and backspace, then all the attempts are lost.’