Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To move the pedals of a bicycle or similar vehicle backward, especially to apply a brake.
  • intransitive v. To move backward by taking short quick steps, as in boxing or football.
  • intransitive v. To retreat or withdraw from a position or attitude: The senator later backpedaled on the issue.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To pedal backwards on a bicycle.
  • v. To step backwards.
  • v. To distance oneself from an earlier claim or statement; back off from an idea.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. pedal backwards, as on a bicycle.
  • intransitive v. step backwards, in boxing.
  • intransitive v. modify one' opinion, usually by making it less strong or adding qualifications.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In bicycling, to press down upon the pedal as it rises, in order to check the movement of the wheel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. pedal backwards on a bicycle
  • v. modify one's opinion, make it less strong
  • v. step backwards, in boxing

Etymologies

back +‎ pedal (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The hospitals — which were the first to backpedal from the initial industry agreement to lower health care spending by 1.5 percentage points over 10 years — objected.

    Wonk Room » What Do We Gain From The New Hospital Agreement?

  • Has marginal timed speed, his backpedal is stiff and high and he often gets turned around by the slot receivers and tight ends working the short area ...

    USATODAY.com

  • It’s a backpedal from the claim I was addressing, as well as from Matthew’s claim.

    Matthew Yglesias » Staggeringly Off-the-Mark Forecasts of European Economic Preeminence

  • NANCY PFOTENHAUER, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN POLICY ADVISER: Senator Obama continuing to dance and, if you will, kind of backpedal on his positions, that he's revealing himself to not be any type of new politician or a new agent of change, but really way too much like the typical politician.

    CNN Transcript Jul 7, 2008

  • For those interested in tracking the changing Conservative commitment, check the Bond Papers archives for posts with the word "backpedal" or variations in the title.

    Archive 2006-01-01

  • He can lie all he wants to and try to "backpedal" all he wants, but it is too late, he cannot undo what he has done; he has once and for all, pulled down his pants in front of the entire country, squatted on the hallowed 9/11/01 Ground Zero site and taken a huge PUBLIC DUMP UPON

    Latest Articles

  • Obama can "backpedal" and "Walkback" all he wants but it is too late, Obama is nothing short of satanic.

    Latest Articles

  • They picked the number out of their ass, knowing they'd need to 'backpedal' later … but 'later' is too late for the suckers who plunked their cash down, isn't it?]

    Conceptual Guerilla - Central Command in the War of Ideas

  • If they then backpedal with the "oh, we're about to file it" then you can simply reply, "Well, when I am served with the copy of the complaint, then you can discuss the case with my attorney, but I have nothing more to say until I have reviewed the court complaint with my attorney."

    Fake Debt Collectors 'Moreno And Woods' Strike Again - The Consumerist

  • As I smiled at him, I started to walk backward, then to backpedal faster, still holding his gaze.

    Manifesting Michelangelo

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