1. a wall, wire screen, or the like, serving to prevent a ball from going too far beyond the normal playing area.
  2. Baseball. the catcher.
  3. a person or thing that serves as a support, safeguard, or reinforcement: There were technicians on board as backstops to the automated controls.

verb (used without object), back·stopped, back·stop·ping.

  1. to act as a backstop.

verb (used with object), back·stopped, back·stop·ping.

  1. to act as a backstop to: The government agreed to backstop companies that invested in oil exploration.


  1. sport a screen or fence to prevent balls leaving the playing area
  2. a block or catch to prevent excessive backward movement, such as one on the sliding seat of a rowing boat

verb -stops, -stopping or -stopped (tr)

  1. US to provide with backing or support

1819, in cricket, from back (adj.) + stop. In U.S. baseball, from 1889, “fence behind the catcher;” figurative extension to “catcher on a baseball team” is from 1890. The verb is attested from 1956 in the sense of “support.” Related: Backstopped; backstopping.

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