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To quickly and often abruptly reverse or retreat from one's position or opinion on a given subject. Refers to pedaling backwards on a bicycle (done to apply the brakes on fixed-gear bikes), or to taking quick, backward steps, as in football or boxing. The actor had to backpedal when he let slip a racist remark during the press conference.

put the pedal to the metal

Sl. to press a car's accelerator to the floor; to drive very fast. Let's go, man. Put the pedal to the metal. Put the pedal to the metal, and we'll make up some lost time.
See also: metal, pedal, put

soft-pedal something

to play something down; to de-emphasize something. (Alludes to the soft pedal on the piano, which reduces the volume.) Try to soft-pedal the problems we have with the cooling system. I won't soft-pedal anything. Everyone must know the truth.

(put) the pedal to the metal

to make something go forward or increase as fast as possible Ingrid put the pedal to the metal and finished writing her essay a day early.
Etymology: based on the idea of pressing a car's gas pedal (a flat piece that you control with your foot) all the way to the floor to make the car go as fast as possible
Related vocabulary: floor it
See also: metal, pedal

soft pedal

Something that de-emphasizes, restrains, or plays down, as in The mayor put a soft pedal on this potentially explosive situation. This expression alludes to the una corda or soft pedal of the piano, which reduces the volume of the sound. It gave rise to the verb soft-pedal, meaning both "reduce the volume of" or "make less emphatic, downplay." [Early 1900s]
See also: pedal, soft

put the pedal to the metal

tv. to press a car’s accelerator to the floor; to floor it. Put the pedal to the metal, and we’re out of here.
See also: metal, pedal, put

soft pedal something

tv. to play something down; to de-emphasize something. (Refers to the soft pedal on the piano.) Try to soft pedal the problems we have with the cooling system.
See also: pedal, soft
References in periodicals archive ?
Unique to Pioneer's pedaling monitor, the unit also sends additional data streams to illustrate power and efficiency vectors (every 30 degrees) throughout the complete pedaling rotation via the SGX-CA900 computer.
The pedaling monitor includes strain sensors for a left and right crank application, a wireless transmitter, and approximately 200 hours of operation from a single battery (per sensor).
Pedaling and tone color will always depend on the piano, the hall and perhaps the mood of the performer at the time; each of the pianists quoted here might have played the piece differently each time it was performed.
The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling (Indiana University Press, 1985), p.
You'll see parents carting kids in little trailers and couples pedaling about on six-speed tandems ($12 per hour, $30 for the day at Brown's).
SHUTTLE: If you want to reach the island's interior without pedaling up the difficult and precarious 3 1/2 miles immediately out of Avalon, you can catch a shuttle ride to the airport.
Although this book cannot supplant Joseph Banowetz's authoritative Pianist's Guide to Pedaling (Indiana University Press, 1985), it is nonetheless to be recommended to pianists of all ages whose ears are ready to be opened.
The writing style is that of a teacher explaining in illuminatingly clear detail how to first work out the subtle mechanics of pedaling, examining up to four depth levels each with a specific musical purpose, and then moving on to how to properly use the fingers and the arm to create the "correct" sound.
I've forgotten what it is to be dry, let alone warm, and fear if I stop pedaling for a second, the head winds will blow me all the way back to Paris.
The chapter on pedaling techniques for both acoustic and digital pianos is valuable for students of all ages to read.
She'll fly to Paris on Monday to begin a personal odyssey she's been planning for a year, ever since she felt like Wonder Woman after pedaling a rented bike 800 miles around France's Loire Valley - and then learned that an English schoolteacher had spent the summer biking 10,000 miles around Europe.
During the height of the summer, when she'll be pedaling through Italy (``1,000 miles of sweating and swearing''), Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, she plans to be on the road by 5 a.
Fair, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer, recommends that when riding a stationary bike and pedaling out of the saddle to keep the torso in line with the frame of the ``exercycle,'' with the hips just above the nose of the saddle.
Standing out of the saddle while pedaling will work your arms and shoulders.
Many organists have attempted authentic performances by employing fingerings and pedalings documented in the sources on instruments modeled on those of the period.