Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Piggyback

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is piggyback. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

The verb piggyback means “to set up or cause to function in conjunction with something larger, more important, or already in existence or operation” or “to function or be carried on or as if on the back of another.”

// The legislation is being piggybacked on another bill. 

// The relief pitcher piggybacked off the the starter and won the ballgame.

PIGGYBACK in Context

“The wildlife structures are being piggybacked on a nearly $1 billion project to widen I-90 from four lanes to six, straighten curves, reduce avalanche hazards and generally improve driving conditions on one of the nation’s busiest mountain highways.” — Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times, 8 June 2015

Did You Know?

Piggyback was first used in the 16th century as an adverb, meaning “up on the back and shoulders” (as in “the child was carried piggyback”). It comes from a phrase of unknown origin, a pick pack. There is also the less-common adverb pickaback. The verb piggyback didn’t piggyback on the adverb until the 19th century.

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