to return over the same course or route.
to withdraw from an undertaking, position, etc.; reverse a policy.
contemporary examples

backtracking a bit, but the first time i saw you was as tim whatley on seinfeld, who converted to judaism for the jokes.
bryan cranston on walter white’s future, directing ‘better call saul,’ and hillary 2016 marlow stern july 31, 2014

on the other hand, the backtracking and clarifications obviously undermined that.
abbas stays put on refugees hussein ibish november 4, 2012

historical examples

backtracking ourselves, we found where she had left the road and had hidden behind a big rock while we had p-ssed.
i married a ranger dama margaret smith

if we did, we’d have to do a lot of backtracking to get back to this dead star.
islands of sp-ce john w campbell

in backtracking along the highway, they encountered two extensive patches of flood water.
dan carter cub scout mildred a. wirt

verb (intransitive)
to return by the same route by which one has come
to retract or reverse one’s opinion, action, policy, etc

“retrace one’s steps,” figuratively, by 1896, from literal sense, with reference to hunted foxes, from back (adv.) + track (v.). related: backtracked; backtracking.
a scheme for solving a series of sub-problems each of which may have multiple possible solutions and where the solution chosen for one sub-problem may affect the possible solutions of later sub-problems.
to solve the overall problem, we find a solution to the first sub-problem and then attempt to recursively solve the other sub-problems based on this first solution. if we cannot, or we want all possible solutions, we backtrack and try the next possible solution to the first sub-problem and so on. backtracking terminates when there are no more solutions to the first sub-problem.
this is the algorithm used by logic programming languages such as prolog to find all possible ways of proving a goal. an optimisation known as “intelligent backtracking” keeps track of the dependencies between sub-problems and only re-solves those which depend on an earlier solution which has changed.
backtracking is one algorithm which can be used to implement nondeterminism. it is effectively a depth-first search of a problem sp-ce.

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