Backup plan / Fallback plan


Senior Member
Hello. Please could you explain to me if there's any difference between a "backup plan" and a "fallback plan"? According to the dictionary definitions I can't see much of a difference, but according to some articles I have read on the Internet it seems to me that a "backup plan" might be a plan you'd use if things go wrong (when there's a risk or likelihood they can go wrong) and "fallback plan" is more like a plan for extraordinary (and less likely) emergency situations when everything (perhaps including your backup plans) fails. Do you perceive a difference like this or do you use them interchangeably in common speech?

Here are a few sentences:
"Make sure you have a fallback plan in case something goes terribly wrong."
"The plan hadn't gone well at all and the four had been forced to resort to their fallback plan."
"He was used as a backup plan when the remaining members of the gang failed to accomplish their mission."
"What if you can't borrow your mum's car? Do you have a backup plan?"

Thank you in advance for your help.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    Fallback is the more recent adjective and implies a plan to "fall back on." to fall back -> to retreat. It is a plan that will give some hope of success even if things go wrong.

    "The rebels were far stronger than expected and the king's troops fell back to the castle."

    Back-up plan implies a second plan as an alternative to the primary if the primary plan cannot, for any reason, be implemented.

    The main difference is in the nuances:
    Fall-back -> if defeated by something.
    Back-up -> as a sensible alternative/insurance.

    The pianist

    Senior Member
    English - US
    For all intents and purposes they are one and the same. If you think that someone will stop you, correct you and say it should be this, then think again. No one cares.
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