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To distance oneself from an earlier claim or statement; back off from an idea.

Though initially adopting a hard-line stance, the politician soon started to backpedal.

Additional definitions for 'backpedal':

backpedalTo pedal backwards on a bicycle.
backpedalTo step backwards.
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"backpedal." Phrases.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 20 Nov. 2017. <http://www.phrases.net/phrase/backpedal_11008>.

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