Anything you push with your feet to control a machine, vehicle, or instrument is a pedal. When you use a sewing machine, you push the pedal with your foot to make the needle move up and down.

When you see the letters ped, something related to the foot might just be afoot. Pedestrians walk around by foot, and a pedicure is when your tootsies get the spa treatment. Those letters don’t always relate to feet, but it does with pedal, the noun or verb. The controls on the floor of your car are pedals, and if you put the pedal to the metal, it means you press as hard as you can on the gas pedal. Woohoo!

Definitions of pedal
  1. noun
    a lever that is operated with the foot
    synonyms: foot lever, foot pedal, treadle
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    accelerator, accelerator pedal, gas, gas pedal, gun, throttle
    a pedal that controls the throttle valve
    brake pedal
    foot pedal that moves a piston in the master brake cylinder
    clutch, clutch pedal
    a pedal or lever that engages or disengages a rotating shaft and a driving mechanism
    soft pedal
    a pedal on a piano that moves the action closer to the strings and so soften the sound
    loud pedal, sustaining pedal
    a pedal on a piano that lifts the dampers from the strings and so allows them to continue vibrating
    type of:
    a rigid bar pivoted about a fulcrum
  2. verb
    ride a bicycle
    synonyms: bicycle, bike, cycle, wheel
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    ride a unicycle
    pedal backwards on a bicycle
    type of:
    be carried or travel on or in a vehicle
  3. verb
    operate the pedals on a keyboard instrument
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    type of:
    control, operate
    handle and cause to function
  4. adjective
    of or relating to the feet
    “the word for a pedal extremity is `foot'”
  5. noun
    a sustained bass note
    synonyms: pedal point
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    type of:
    musical note, note, tone
    a notation representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound
Commonly confused words

peddle / pedal / petal

Sometimes the only way to choose your words with homophones is to memorize their spellings and meanings. Pedal/peddle/petal is one such set of homophones.

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