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[ped-l or for 6–8, peed-l] /ˈpɛd l or for 6–8, ˈpid l/
a foot-operated lever used to control certain mechanisms, as automobiles, or to play or modify the sounds of certain musical instruments, as pianos, organs, or harps.
a leverlike part worked by the foot to supply power in various mechanisms, as the bicycle.
  1. a foot-operated keyboard, as on an organ or harpsichord.
  2. any of the keys of such a keyboard.
  3. pedal point.
verb (used without object), pedaled, pedaling or (especially British) pedalled, pedalling.
to work or use the pedals, as in playing an organ or propelling a bicycle.
verb (used with object), pedaled, pedaling or (especially British) pedalled, pedalling.
to work the pedals of (an organ, bicycle, etc.).
of or relating to a foot or the feet.
of or relating to a pedal or pedals.
using pedals:
a pedal mechanism.
Origin of pedal
1605-15; (< French pédale) < Latin pedālis of the feet. See ped-2, -al1
Can be confused
pedal, peddle, petal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pedal
  • Once the system is installed, it will stop the car if both the brake pedal and accelerator pedal are depressed.
  • People were not going to pedal their planes themselves.
  • Cyclists pedal at their own pace, regrouping at points of interest and in the evenings to share their experiences.
  • He bolted a piece of plywood between the back wheels to create a place to sit and pedal.
  • Then you lock it in place by touching an ingenious foot pedal.
  • In bad weather, some athletes turn to indoor bike trainers, which hold the bike in place while they pedal.
  • Ride in the granny gear and pedal faster to move slower.
  • Going south on a bicycle means you have not to pedal, or only pedal through minimal effort.
  • Or you can pedal in the morning to work off last night's meal and wine, then return to the barge for a leisurely afternoon.
  • The engine restarts as the driver's foot leaves the brake but before it touches the gas pedal.
British Dictionary definitions for pedal


  1. any foot-operated lever or other device, esp one of the two levers that drive the chain wheel of a bicycle, the foot brake, clutch control, or accelerator of a car, one of the levers on an organ controlling deep bass notes, or one of the levers on a piano used to create a muted effect or sustain tone
  2. (as modifier): a pedal cycle, a pianist's pedal technique
verb -als, -alling, -alled (US) -als, -aling, -aled
to propel (a bicycle, boat, etc) by operating the pedals
(intransitive) to operate the pedals of an organ, piano, etc, esp in a certain way
to work (pedals of any kind)
Word Origin
C17: from Latin pedālis; see pedal²


of or relating to the foot or feet
Word Origin
C17: from Latin pedālis, from pēs foot
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 pedal

1610s, "lever (on an organ) worked by foot," from French pédale "feet, trick with the feet," from Italian pedale "treadle, pedal," from Late Latin pedale "(thing) of the foot," neuter of Latin pedalis "of the foot," from pes (genitive pedis) "foot" (see foot (n.)).

Extended to various mechanical contrivances by 1789. Pedal steel guitar is from 1969. Pedal-pushers "type of women's trousers suitable for bicycling" is from 1944.

When college girls took to riding bicycles in slacks, they first rolled up one trouser leg, then rolled up both. This whimsy has now produced a trim variety of long shorts, called "pedal pushers." ["Life," Aug. 28, 1944]


1866 of musical organs, 1888 of bicycles, from pedal (n.). Related: Pedaled; pedaling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pedal in Medicine

pedal ped·al (pěd'l, pēd'l)
Of or relating to a foot or footlike part.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for pedal


Related Terms

put the pedal to the metal, soft-pedal

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with pedal


see: soft pedal
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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