1. 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.
  2. a leverlike part worked by the foot to supply power in various mechanisms, as the bicycle.
  3. Music.
    1. a foot-operated keyboard, as on an organ or harpsichord.
    2. any of the keys of such a keyboard.
    3. pedal point.

verb (used without object), ped·aled, ped·al·ing or (especially British) ped·alled, ped·al·ling.

  1. to work or use the pedals, as in playing an organ or propelling a bicycle.

verb (used with object), ped·aled, ped·al·ing or (especially British) ped·alled, ped·al·ling.

  1. to work the pedals of (an organ, bicycle, etc.).


  1. of or relating to a foot or the feet.
  2. of or relating to a pedal or pedals.
  3. using pedals: a pedal mechanism.


    1. any foot-operated lever or other device, esp one of the two levers that drive the chain wheel of a bicycle, the foot brake, clutch control, or accelerator of a car, one of the levers on an organ controlling deep bass notes, or one of the levers on a piano used to create a muted effect or sustain tone
    2. (as modifier)a pedal cycle; a pianist’s pedal technique

verb -als, -alling or -alled or US -als, -aling or -aled

  1. to propel (a bicycle, boat, etc) by operating the pedals
  2. (intr) to operate the pedals of an organ, piano, etc, esp in a certain way
  3. to work (pedals of any kind)


  1. of or relating to the foot or feet

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

  1. Of or relating to a foot or footlike part.

see soft pedal.

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