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[bak-trak] /ˈbækˌtræk/
verb (used without object)
to return over the same course or route.
to withdraw from an undertaking, position, etc.; reverse a policy.
Origin of backtrack
1715-25, Americanism; back2 + track Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for backtrack
  • If the expedition had followed your advice, they would have had to backtrack, losing precious summer travel days.
  • He also said he was open to pardoning the former dictator, only to backtrack.
  • The global warming alarmists continue to backtrack in the face of some real research and real science.
  • It was better to backtrack, every move elegantly reversed, than to climb in a clumsy or scrappy way.
  • The euro-zone is an irreversible process, and no one can backtrack now without undergoing tremendous losses.
  • In her first run, she missed a gate and had to backtrack to go through.
British Dictionary definitions for backtrack


verb (intransitive)
to return by the same route by which one has come
to retract or reverse one's opinion, action, policy, etc
Derived Forms
backtracking, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for backtrack

"retrace one's steps," figuratively, by 1896, from literal sense, with reference to hunted foxes, from back (adv.) + track (v.). Related: Backtracked; backtracking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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