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[ped-l or for 6–8, peed-l] /ˈpɛd l or for 6–8, ˈpid l/

a foot-operated lever used to control certain mechanisms, as automobiles, or to play or modify the sounds of certain musical instruments, as pianos, organs, or harps.
a leverlike part worked by the foot to supply power in various mechanisms, as the bicycle.

verb (used without object), pedaled, pedaling or (especially British) pedalled, pedalling.
to work or use the pedals, as in playing an organ or propelling a bicycle.
verb (used with object), pedaled, pedaling or (especially British) pedalled, pedalling.
to work the pedals of (an organ, bicycle, etc.).
of or relating to a foot or the feet.
of or relating to a pedal or pedals.
using pedals:
a pedal mechanism.

verb -als, -alling, -alled (US) -als, -aling, -aled
to propel (a bicycle, boat, etc) by operating the pedals
(intransitive) to operate the pedals of an organ, piano, etc, esp in a certain way
to work (pedals of any kind)
of or relating to the foot or feet

1610s, “lever (on an organ) worked by foot,” from French pédale “feet, trick with the feet,” from Italian pedale “treadle, pedal,” from Late Latin pedale “(thing) of the foot,” neuter of Latin pedalis “of the foot,” from pes (genitive pedis) “foot” (see foot (n.)).

Extended to various mechanical contrivances by 1789. Pedal steel guitar is from 1969. Pedal-pushers “type of women’s trousers suitable for bicycling” is from 1944.

When college girls took to riding bicycles in slacks, they first rolled up one trouser leg, then rolled up both. This whimsy has now produced a trim variety of long shorts, called “pedal pushers.” [“Life,” Aug. 28, 1944]


1866 of musical organs, 1888 of bicycles, from pedal (n.). Related: Pedaled; pedaling.

pedal ped·al (pěd’l, pēd’l)
Of or relating to a foot or footlike part.

Related Terms

put the pedal to the metal, soft-pedal
see: soft pedal


Read Also:

  • Pedalo

    /ˈpɛdələʊ/ noun (pl) -los, -loes 1. a pleasure craft driven by pedal-operated paddle wheels

  • Pedal-piano

    noun 1. a piano having a pedal keyboard of 29 notes and connected with an action placed at the back where a special soundboard, covered with 29 strings, is built into the case.

  • Pedal-point

    noun, Music. 1. a tone sustained by one part, usually the bass, while other parts progress without reference to it. 2. a passage containing it. /ˈpɛdəl/ noun 1. (music) a sustained bass note, over which the other parts move bringing about changing harmonies Often shortened to pedal

  • Pedal power

    noun bicycling as transportation

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