Definition of backtrack in US English:



  • 1no object Retrace one's steps.

    ‘she had to bypass two closer farms and backtrack to them later’
    figurative ‘to backtrack a little, the case is a complex one’
    • ‘Summer backtracked about two steps and then held open the door for her, revealing what looked to be a large public lounge and restroom, complete with about five stalls and a leather sofa, in a private home.’
    • ‘Nothing would be nicer than to hear a filmmaker backtrack and recall how studio tinkering hampered his vision, or how test audience ambivalence mutated his masterwork.’
    • ‘I backtrack a couple dozen feet on the street until I'm standing next to a lady who's trying to dig her car out of a snowbank, and we're both eyeing this thing warily as it continues to clatter and belch fire and smoke.’
    • ‘Let's backtrack a little bit because people will wonder why we didn't address this.’
    • ‘Let's backtrack a bit and review the events as they occurred.’
    • ‘At times this requires backtracking in order to regain the thread of meaning/imagery, stammering the poem's impact.’
    • ‘When the 507th, believing their previous route to be clear, backtracked through the town, the guerrillas attacked, achieving surprise.’
    • ‘Now I'm headed east on Highway 3, backtracking from I - 35 to Hampton.’
    • ‘I just don't know if I should veer off this path for a while, maybe backtrack a bit and see if I can't find out what I've forgotten to do.’
    • ‘No one can make up their minds what to do, and then when they finally do, they end up backtracking, retracing their steps, and returning to the scene of the previous puzzlement to more or less complete the vacuous cycle.’
    • ‘Let me backtrack a bit because you made reference to it twice.’
    • ‘We begin with a violent and botched jewellery heist in downtown Tehran; then the action backtracks to show the robbers' lives, and how they got into this mess.’
    • ‘Not being able to see a foot in front of her face she backtracked a few steps and began searching the wall for a light switch.’
    • ‘The pattern was repeated on and off: occasionally coming into a clearing, getting directions, backtracking, lost again, more directions.’
    • ‘These tickets are loaded with restrictions: with most, you'll need to travel either east-to-west or vice versa without backtracking and complete your trip within a year.’
    • ‘I stepped through the door - only to backtrack when what he said finally computed.’
    • ‘Web pages have gotten us used to wandering through content via links, backtracking, re-reading and re-finding with reasonable ease.’
    • ‘When we graduate from high school most of us don't know where we are going to end up-we make U-turns, take forward steps, backtrack, travel and reinvent ourselves several times along the way.’
    • ‘To backtrack a bit, both DJ and his teacher swore up and down to me for most of this school year that DJ and S. had become friends and had put the past behind them.’
    • ‘The woman turned around as quickly as if someone had forcibly spun her around by a shoulder, and in two running steps had backtracked to him.’
    retract, take back, unsay, go back on, recall, recant, disavow, disclaim, abjure, repudiate, renounce
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Reverse one's previous action or opinion.
      ‘the unions have had to backtrack on their demands’
      • ‘Even the government, with its tonal backtrack on race-based policies, has acknowledged that.’
      • ‘Aberdeen council was recently forced to backtrack on its single status plans after council workers threatened industrial action.’
      • ‘Even he is not willing to fully backtrack on that.’
      • ‘Every effort must be made to force the government to backtrack on the cuts which will result in an estimated 58 million being saved by reductions in rent allowance and welfare payments, he said.’
      • ‘People power has triumphed and forced Lancaster City Council to backtrack on three sets of plans.’
      • ‘Worse still, the government has often backtracked on its reform commitments or reversed measures deemed to be politically or socially unfeasible.’
      • ‘The magnitude of the problem is greater now, because of the focus on the democracy, and the U.S. simply cannot backtrack on that.’
      • ‘She appears to have backtracked from that position.’
      • ‘He backtracked to their position, but by then the men in black were upon them.’
      • ‘I wonder if Labour will backtrack on its tax policy and increase the brackets for income tax thresholds after learning of this poll - when your own base support is demanding change then you know you are in trouble.’
      • ‘A district council has been forced to backtrack on its proposed council tax rise after being warned that it risked being capped.’
      • ‘Imagine not being permitted to backtrack on an inadvertent slip.’
      • ‘He's already been forced to backtrack on the assertion that he made that three Republican lawyers supported the pardon.’
      • ‘The election manifesto of her Christian Democratic Union party, due next week, is expected to backtrack on promises to slash state handouts and modernise the country.’
      • ‘The Government cannot use the economic downturn as an excuse to backtrack on assistance promised to the disabled in next month's budget, a lobby group declared yesterday.’
      • ‘Indeed, he often backtracked from long-held positions - a tactic referred to as a ‘confirmation conversion’ in Washington.’
      • ‘Consumers get incredibly upset when dieticians and researchers backtrack on previous findings, proclaiming that products once deemed healthy are now in question.’
      • ‘That is a really major backtrack on the Act, and it flies in the face of the many submissions we received from workers and unions, supporting the intentions of the holidays legislation.’
      • ‘Unfortunately though, their first major agreement virtually formalized a procedure for allowing members to backtrack on their trade liberalization commitments.’
      • ‘The actual point of this post is to backtrack on something I've brought up in conversation many times to annoy my conservative friends.’
      reverse, drive backwards, move backwards
      give in, concede defeat, surrender, yield, submit, climb down, concede, reconsider
      View synonyms
  • 2US with object Pursue, trace, or monitor.

    ‘he was able to backtrack the buck to a ridge nearby’
    • ‘The ‘little old lady’ would no longer be backtracked because an overweight, under-exercised middle-aged man has developed heart problems through his own stupidity.’
    • ‘Because there were no other lynx tracks in the area, I was able to backtrack the lynx to the site where the deer was first attacked.’
    • ‘Based on their observations, Henry and his colleagues were able to backtrack the Abell 754 collision to its two constituent galaxy clusters, with one smaller than the other.’
    • ‘Unlike corporate networks, which can limit access, and can backtrack users, we have to continuously monitor for attacks and, more importantly, successful intrusions.’
    • ‘In a nutshell, we took the information that he did give, that was legitimate, and just backtracked it to the hotel room he was in, and then simply did a photo identification.’
    • ‘He then took out his camera and backtracked the animal's course, finding two other beds that the ram had used.’
    • ‘She waited a few minutes, and then backtracked his footsteps.’
    • ‘A counterbattery radar system can backtrack the path of enemy projectiles to the launch site and automatically provide location information, telling friendly forces where to fire.’
    • ‘We backtracked the attackers to the northern edge of the woods.’
    • ‘They'd been able to backtrack the entire affair, all the way back to a really good picture of Kayla swiping the vials of aphrodisiac.’
    • ‘I backtrack the deer, because I want to observe its pattern of natural movement.’
    • ‘So, there I was this morning, backtracking visitors, and someone got here from a search on his name.’