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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 pedalling
Historical Examples
  • Lorania was still in the saddle, pedalling from sheer force of habit, and clinging to the handle-bars.

    Stories That End Well Octave Thanet
  • Every pianist of note has, of course, his own style of pedalling.

  • There is a very great deal in pedalling evenly, as this not only lessens the labour but takes away all difficulty of steering.

  • Lorania was still in the saddle, pedalling from sheer force of habit, and clinging to the handle bars.

    Different Girls Various
  • His breath became audible, his steering unsteady, his pedalling positively ferocious.

    The Wheels of Chance H. G. Wells
  • He was of a Godlike kindness when his mind inclined to music, and the pedalling was skilful and sure.

    The Penalty Gouverneur Morris
  • And Jerry put his whole heart into his pedalling and bore her at the top of his speed.

    The Odds Ethel M. Dell
  • We'll turn the piano so that seeing how the pedalling is done won't distract their attention from the music.

    The Penalty Gouverneur Morris
  • She seated herself upon the high bench before the organ, arranging her skirts so that they should not balk her pedalling.

    A German Pompadour Marie Hay
  • He was bent double over the handle bars, pedalling frantically.

    Letty and the Twins Helen Sherman Griffith
British Dictionary definitions for pedalling


  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 pedalling



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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pedalling 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 pedalling


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 pedalling


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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