Definition of back number in English:

back number


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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Also, partly moth-eaten back numbers of forgotten magazines of the 1950s or even earlier may catch your eye.’
    • ‘Get out your file of back numbers of the magazine and read what was written in form of bitter complaints last year.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But some of these back numbers show up in bookstores and vendors' stands near universities.’
    • ‘It is fascinating to read the back numbers of what was one woman's unique contribution to our local community.’
    1. 1.1informal A person or thing seen as outdated or past their prime.
      • ‘It would be stupid to write him off as a back number on the strength of that Kempton run alone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And the gelding showed he was no back number by making a successful reappearance at Huntingdon a month ago.’
      • ‘The UN seems even more of a back number than it did in March.’
      • ‘Though he showed flashes of the old brilliance, fashionable opinion increasingly considered him obsolete, a back number from a bygone era.’
      • ‘The gelding, no back number at the age of nine, can show his junior rivals a clean pair of heels at Musselburgh tomorrow.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We secular Europeans are the back numbers, not them.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      fogey, old fogey, conservative, traditionalist, conventionalist, diehard, conformist, bourgeois, museum piece, fossil, dinosaur, troglodyte
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back number