pedal

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backpedal

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