Definition of back number in English:

back number


  • 1An issue of a periodical earlier than the current one.

    • ‘But when I last visited the shop, the owner directed me to a pile of back numbers of a journal that was neither dead nor Indian.’
    • ‘He and two co-authors read through back numbers of various urban gay community papers, mostly of the giveaway sort that are laden with bar ads and personals.’
    • ‘On the off-chance that I might come across his views on forest nudity, I trawled through back numbers of the international Catholic weekly.’
    • ‘Recent back numbers are usually available at a bargain price to new members.’
    • ‘Our website also carries at least three complete articles per back number in pdf format.’
    • ‘He had seen his exhibition advertised in a back number of the magazine and used one of his last two remaining postage stamps to send him photographs of his figures in pastel.’
    • ‘But some of these back numbers show up in bookstores and vendors' stands near universities.’
    • ‘Also, partly moth-eaten back numbers of forgotten magazines of the 1950s or even earlier may catch your eye.’
    • ‘But it is disheartening if you've set aside a Saturday evening and travelled ten miles for a game to be eliminated in 1902 and spend the rest of the evening thumbing disconsolately through dog-eared back numbers of magazines.’
    • ‘It is fascinating to read the back numbers of what was one woman's unique contribution to our local community.’
    • ‘Get out your file of back numbers of the magazine and read what was written in form of bitter complaints last year.’
    • ‘In secret she and he carried his copies of the journal down Grenfell Street into her office and stashed them in the storeroom under back numbers of another publication.’
    1. 1.1informal A person or thing seen as outdated or past their prime.
      • ‘The UN seems even more of a back number than it did in March.’
      • ‘The works of the authors became unfashionable, and when he immigrated to the Lower East Side in 1907 he found himself a back number, outdistanced by his offspring.’
      • ‘In his essay he noted that there was ‘a good deal of wounded amour propre about Leningrad, a coldly handsome and once arrogant old capital, now viewed as something of a back number by the Moscow arrivistes’.’
      • ‘Not much past sixty, he began to regard and carry himself as an old man, not at all displeased to be considered a back number.’
      • ‘The gelding, no back number at the age of nine, can show his junior rivals a clean pair of heels at Musselburgh tomorrow.’
      • ‘It would be stupid to write him off as a back number on the strength of that Kempton run alone.’
      • ‘The new car is nice though, a sporty back number with electric everything and stainless steel sports pedals, with holes in, probably so you can put the pedal to the metal faster.’
      • ‘Though he showed flashes of the old brilliance, fashionable opinion increasingly considered him obsolete, a back number from a bygone era.’
      • ‘He loves cut in the ground and coming round a bend and showed he's far from a back number when third behind his two opponents in the Rockingham at the Curragh.’
      • ‘We secular Europeans are the back numbers, not them.’
      • ‘And the gelding showed he was no back number by making a successful reappearance at Huntingdon a month ago.’
      • ‘The gelding, at ten years old, is in the twilight of his career but showed he was no back number at York last month when a good second to his opponent over an inadequate one mile and six furlongs.’
      fogey, old fogey, conservative, traditionalist, conventionalist, diehard, conformist, bourgeois, museum piece, fossil, dinosaur, troglodyte
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back number