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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — piggyback

Good evening, Netizens...

March 12, 2013

Word of the Day

  • piggyback
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PIG-ee-bak\


: up on the back and shoulders
: on or as if on the back of another; especially : on a railroad flatcar

The youngest of the hikers had the advantage of riding piggyback through the muddy fields.

"Unfortunately, his footing wasn't as steady as he'd hoped, and he fell from the log.… He wasn't able to get himself up and had to be carried piggyback from the scene." — From a television show review by on, January 28, 2013


Have you ever wondered where the porcine part of "piggyback" comes from? Well, it's not from the pigs themselves. The adverb "piggyback" likely began as "a pick pack." Another early form of the word is "pickback," evidence of which can be found in the still-extant variant "pickaback." The adverb "piggyback" dates to the mid-16th century, and the noun—referring to an act of carrying piggyback—was in use by the end of that same century. The adjective "piggyback," as in "piggyback ride," didn't enter the language until the 18th century, and the now-common verb "piggyback" didn't piggyback on the others until the late 19th century.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.