Definition of back in US English:

back

noun

  • 1The rear surface of the human body from the shoulders to the hips.

    ‘he lay on his back’
    as modifier ‘back pain’
    ‘Forbes slapped me on the back’
    • ‘As they worked, no one complained of the pain in their backs or hands, but no one talked either.’
    • ‘Most of the local women harvest seaweed for which they bend at the waist for long hours with poor body posture, and the men also strain their backs working as fishermen or in construction.’
    • ‘He had huge shoulders and a broad back which tapered to an extraordinarily small waist.’
    • ‘Not only was his back pain a physical problem, it had stopped him working and meant his finances were low.’
    • ‘One way to do this is to place your baby in an upright position against your shoulder and pat his back gently.’
    • ‘Her long hair fell down her back and over her shoulders as she just stood almost as still as stone.’
    • ‘Through this great teacher I have learned how to keep my back free from pain.’
    • ‘Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body but are most frequently found on the upper backs and legs.’
    • ‘After multiple grand adventures, the two finally settled down to eat their lunch with their backs resting against a fallen tree.’
    • ‘All healthy babies under 1 year old should sleep on their backs.’
    • ‘Vijay was an older gentleman, large for his size with broad shoulders and a strong back.’
    • ‘I smiled, putting one hand on his shoulder and tapping the back of some tall guy in front of us.’
    • ‘She did not think she had seen him touching or stroking the small of the back or shoulders.’
    • ‘If you get a bad back or do a shoulder in, they just want to give you the sack.’
    • ‘They were leaning on each other's shoulders, with their backs to the tombstone.’
    • ‘Some protesters applied face and body paint while others attached angel wings to their backs.’
    • ‘Women wear long cotton or woolen scarves that cover their heads, ears, backs, and shoulders.’
    • ‘The design of each chair inside the library is perfect for the rest of the back and the spinal cord.’
    • ‘Of the thousands of yoga postures, I'd like to recommend three that are good for backs and spines.’
    • ‘At times I was unable to walk and had severe pain in the lower back, neck and shoulders all the time.’
    1. 1.1 The upper surface of an animal's body that corresponds to a person's back.
      • ‘Their backs are covered with spots larger and farther apart than those on the head.’
      • ‘However the caps of Chestnut-backs are brown rather than black, and their backs, shoulders, and sides are a deep chestnut color.’
      • ‘The bees have wonderful habits, including a trick to keep warm: they have hairs on their backs and gather together so that the hairs form a kind of duvet over them.’
      • ‘They get their name from the large numbers of thorns or spines evident on the back and tail.’
      • ‘They are similar to large mousetraps and are designed to break the back of an animal.’
      • ‘Males grow humped backs and hooked jaws, and females keep their sleeker shape.’
      • ‘The beetles' backs are covered with bumps - under a microscope, they resemble a landscape of peaks and valleys.’
      • ‘Pangolins are conspicuous and remarkable because their backs are covered with large, overlapping scales made up of agglutinated hairs.’
      • ‘It contains venom in the spines on its back and so a person can be stung by inadvertently stepping on it.’
      • ‘By analogy with modern amphipods it is thought that these animals may have swum on their backs and fed on suspended particles.’
      • ‘High above, two sea eagles swoop and dive, the light flashing bronze tints off their backs.’
      • ‘Fences were put up, but shelter and feed were lacking; during the harsh winters, snow would pile high on the animals' backs.’
      • ‘I wonder who can tell me what you would call that ugly animal with a great big hump on its back that is condemned to live in a desert.’
    2. 1.2 The spine of a person or animal.
      • ‘Tests showed that he had broken a vertebrae in his back and cracked a rib and will be out for several weeks at least.’
      • ‘MacManaway diagnosed a trapped nerve in the middle of her back and manipulated her spine to ease the pain.’
      • ‘He was placed on a spine board after damaging his back, neck and head in the crash.’
      • ‘He had cracked three vertebrae in his back but has been told he will make a full recovery.’
      • ‘While the accident left her with a broken back and severed spine, it did not stifle her sense of adventure.’
      • ‘I thought at the very least I must have broken my back, the pain was that bad.’
      spine, backbone, spinal column, vertebral column
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 The part of a chair against which the sitter's back rests.
      • ‘Their legs were tucked up in front of them, and their arms rested over the back of the chair.’
      • ‘Learn to tie fanciful bows or just tie a simple bow to the backs of dining chairs, around stemware or around your silverware.’
      • ‘Friends and family bound into the house, tracking in mud or snow, stashing coats in already overstuffed closets or heaping them over the backs of chairs.’
      • ‘Cuyler's furniture ranges from chairs with flowers for backs to stools with the child's name painted on them.’
      • ‘Ample walnut chairs had high backs and were painted, finished a mecca, or left in the natural walnut color.’
      • ‘You may put your arms out in front of you or hold the back of a sturdy chair for balance.’
      • ‘He has poured himself a glass of champagne and put his arm around her, resting his hand on the back of her wooden chair.’
      • ‘The restaurant has heavy starched white linen tablecloths and huge antique Siamese chairs with mother-of-pearl inlaid backs.’
      • ‘Still nobody had offered to take our coats, so we draped them over the back of the chairs.’
      • ‘Place a dining chair with its back against the wall to give you a firm base.’
      • ‘He looked around the small room and found his jacket and shirt draped over the back of a chair.’
      • ‘His ancestors were cobblers but diversified into making vividly embroidered leather bags, wallets and chair backs.’
      • ‘She rested her upper arms along the backs of the chair, resting her head against one hand.’
      • ‘The jacket is on the back of the chair and the security pass lies on the desk next to piles of paperwork.’
      • ‘Still, even for the rich, chair backs were straight and clothes were tight because politeness mattered more than comfort.’
      • ‘Actors love sitting on tables for the same reason they love gripping the backs of chairs - it makes them look more relaxed on stage.’
      • ‘The walls were plastered in expensive paintings and the couches were long and fancy with wooden arm rests and intricately carved backs.’
      • ‘When the sun becomes strong in summer, people can simply swivel so that they are shaded from it by the chair backs.’
      • ‘The large, single room is cleverly broken up into small sections by folding screens and even the chairs have carved backs featuring Chinese scenes.’
      • ‘Handbags, mobile phones on tables, coats on backs of chairs are all easy pickings for light-fingered thieves.’
    4. 1.4 The part of a garment that covers a person's back.
      • ‘Sleek low backs look good, but they can make you feel exposed and uncomfortable.’
      • ‘With low backs and plunging necklines, this fashion has become more and more popular among teenagers and adults alike and local swimwear stores say sales are booming.’
      • ‘His eyes widen in fear and surprise, and then he strides round the empty house with it tucked into the back of his jeans.’
      • ‘He had a ring in left eyebrow, and wore jeans and a grey anorak with writing on the back.’
      • ‘In the second, he wore a fluorescent yellow jacket with security written across the back.’
      • ‘Bowlers involved will wear sponsor logos on their shirt backs and right sleeves.’
      • ‘The offensive slogan is written is written in letters six inches high on the back of the garment.’
      • ‘Take the dresses as examples: From the front they were basic, flowing dresses, but the backs were cut low in an elegant way.’
      • ‘For evening, the collection is a procession of gathers, plunging necklines and backs, irregular lines.’
    5. 1.5 A person's back regarded as carrying a load or bearing an imposition.
      ‘they wanted the government off their backs’
      • ‘It was council's decision at the time that put this burden on my back and the backs of my neighbors.’
      • ‘And I think they're starting to work together as a coalition now, to get these guys off their backs.’
      • ‘The one thing Reagan was right about is that there are areas where we should get the Federal government off our backs.’
      • ‘They just wanted people to get off their backs and so they did something fast.’
      • ‘Of course the others had figured out that there was something between us again pretty quickly but we'd managed to keep the media off our backs.’
      • ‘They have told their neighbours to get off their backs.’
      • ‘The bank are on their back, and it would be prudent not to deny the possibility of a quick sale at the right price.’
      • ‘We are committed to getting Nanny State off our backs, out of our pockets and out of our lives!’
      • ‘Perhaps, we should endure this meeting once to get your mother off our backs about it.’
      • ‘Vote to get government off our backs.’
      • ‘I mean, I guess she's still meddling, but at least she's off our backs.’
      • ‘Tonight, is it enough to get the paparazzi off their backs?’
      • ‘And it can be difficult to let it roll off our backs when someone is nasty or ignorant.’
      • ‘We went to a nearby restaurant and ate our fill and we were making the most noise cheering and laughing away for our massive success and the great load off our backs.’
      • ‘We had worked hard for two years to get them off our backs.’
      • ‘In general terms, Reagan pledged to return, or advance, to a free market and to ‘get government off our backs.’’
      • ‘Who wouldn't like the chance to get the boss off their backs?’
      • ‘They wanted the state off their backs and the enlargement of civil society in the sense of those institutions and practices that were not the responsibility of the state.’
      • ‘They'd be happy to get him off their backs.’
      • ‘Get off their backs, and get the rest of the gurus and government know-alls off their backs at the same time.’
  • 2The side or part of something that is away from the spectator or from the direction in which it moves or faces; the rear.

    ‘at the back of the hotel is a secluded garden’
    ‘an empty spot in the back of the plane’
    • ‘Sulkily, the publicist moves to the back of the bar but Sinclair is still scowling.’
    • ‘Young children have also been putting their lives at risk by hanging on the back of fire engines while they are on the move.’
    • ‘Charlton and Pegg said they weren't taking any chances and moved to the back of the plane.’
    • ‘There could even be room for a modest theme park at the back of the site, so family fun would be assured.’
    • ‘He quickly moved to the back of the tour bus where we were sitting and spoke softly.’
    • ‘Residents are kept up till late at night and people like my neighbour have to move to the back of their houses to get sleep.’
    • ‘A more streamlined car would have six small wheels, two at the front and four powered at the back.’
    • ‘Then he stands up and moves to the back of the room, by the door they come in and out of.’
    • ‘There are residential facilities, but most pitch a tent on land at the back of the centre.’
    • ‘He's certainly made a big move from the back of the pack, and is looking more like a winner.’
    • ‘With the radiator out of the way now it was time to move on to the back of the truck and the motherboard mounting.’
    • ‘The main bedroom is at the back of the house and has two sash windows and an 18th century pine fireplace.’
    • ‘She swiftly moved to the back of the car, making sure that there was no one behind to see them.’
    • ‘The bus is practically empty, so they move to the back as the bus lurches forwards.’
    • ‘The night was such a success that spectators paid to stand at the back of the hall after all the seats were filled.’
    • ‘When this failed they moved around to the back and tried to unsuccessfully open the kitchen window.’
    • ‘He moved out and bought a rundown place in the town centre round the back of the station.’
    • ‘I move to the back of the room, sitting against the wall and staring at the cute cow.’
    • ‘If it needs changing after qualifying starts, the driver will be moved to the back of the grid.’
    • ‘The supermodel and her companion then stood up and moved to the back of the bar.’
    rear, rear side, other side
    end, tail end, rear end, tail, far end
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1in singular The position directly behind someone or something.
      ‘she unbuttoned her dress from the back’
      • ‘At least for the last four or five miles today the wind was at our back.’
      • ‘Three wins at their back, they'll fear no one next time out.’
      • ‘Walking into the wind is much more difficult and painful than walking with the wind at your back.’
      • ‘Try to fish with the breeze at your back so that your bait gradually drifts away from you and towards the fish.’
      • ‘The moon was at their back, and the enemy used mortar-fire, Very lights and fire-bombs, setting the corn alight.’
      • ‘We did the interview, and then I saw his eyes widen, and I felt a presence at my back.’
      • ‘You just can't go out and not perform in the first half in an All-Ireland semi-final and that's what we did with the wind at our back.’
      • ‘We would have paddled farther yesterday with the wind at our back but we were all wet and tired and ready for some rest.’
      • ‘Hearts were now surging forward with a strong wind at their back and they swept further into the lead six minutes later.’
      • ‘They had the solace of having the driving wind at their back for the second period and went about reducing the deficit with considerable urgency.’
      • ‘Liverpool had that same feeling last season, and it helps to have a bit of luck and the wind at your back.’
    2. 2.2 The side or part of an object opposed to the one that is normally seen or used; the less active, visible, or important part of something.
      ‘write on the back of a postcard’
      ‘he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand’
      • ‘How about reaching back over your shoulder and touching the back of your neck?’
      • ‘Name and age should be written on the back, with a contact address and home telephone number.’
      • ‘I wanted to surprise my friend Chris with a postcard and I knew what I wanted to write on the back.’
      • ‘Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.’
      • ‘I felt a sharp pain in the back of my leg which got much worse when I fell down.’
      • ‘Some of the messages written on the back of the tulip postcards are so sweet and encouraging.’
      • ‘He thinks his day rucksack saved his life, protecting his spine and the back of his neck during the fall.’
      • ‘First, all three of these are great exercises for firming up the backs of your upper arms.’
      • ‘It sent a sympathetic, shivery rush from my spine to the backs of my knees.’
      • ‘When police examined his car, left on the motorway, they found a note written on the back of a bus timetable.’
      • ‘I have a series of photos of the family that I like very much because someone wrote on the backs of them describing the subject and where the photo was taken.’
      • ‘Information about threatened animals turns up on toy packaging or the backs of cereal boxes, even in children's songs.’
      • ‘Inside was a thick stack of 8x10s. Lipton looked through the stack slowly, reading the notes he had written on the backs of each photo.’
      • ‘Each star was dedicated to someone and messages of remembrance were written on the back.’
      reverse, reverse side, other side, underside
      View synonyms
  • 3A player in a field game whose initial position is behind the front line.

    ‘their backs showed some impressive running and passing’
    • ‘He invited Lewis to join the team's defensive backs for happy hour every Friday at a local restaurant.’
    • ‘There was some good inter-passing between backs and forwards.’
    • ‘Too many times, the defensive backs simply hit players and seem to be hoping they will fail.’
    • ‘He still can shadow the game's best receivers and is an excellent role model for the team's young defensive backs.’
    • ‘Now he's not even on the field when the team uses seven defensive backs.’
    • ‘But don't be surprised if the team passes on defensive backs in the first round and takes a wide receiver.’
    • ‘The Browns have played much more cover - 2 than in years past, and the team's defensive backs have responded very well.’
    • ‘He started well and looked on for an early score as both backs and forwards took the game to Tigers.’
    • ‘Communication between corners and safeties needs to improve, and the team is using defensive backs that don't complement each other.’
    • ‘For the past two games, the defensive backs have smothered opposing receivers, which in turn has helped the suddenly resurgent pass rush.’
    • ‘It they stay put, the Saints will eye a wide receiver or defensive end because the draft is thin for defensive backs, the team's primary need.’
    • ‘The team's defensive backs no longer are being picked on.’
    • ‘He also included some first team backs who held the key to the result since the forwards were reasonably well matched.’
    • ‘But he's also been one of the most inconsistent defensive backs in the league.’
    • ‘Great ball handling skills from backs and forwards alike resulted in a full back scoring a try in the corner, a move which saw Town go the full length of the field in three tackles.’
    • ‘In the first two games, the defensive backs seemed indecisive, perhaps the result of playing off receivers.’
    • ‘His 17.9-yard average per catch gets the undivided attention of defensive backs around the league.’
    • ‘Now it's paying off… The team's defensive backs struggled against Philadelphia.’
    • ‘After the restart, gaps were beginning to open on both sides with only a wet ball and lack of game time preventing the backs from both teams putting on a show.’
    • ‘He can get behind defensive backs, but he is very good at catching a quick hitch, breaking tackles and making a big play.’
    full back, sweeper
    View synonyms

adverb

  • 1Toward the rear; in the opposite direction from the one that one is facing or traveling.

    ‘she moved back a pace’
    ‘she walked away without looking back’
    • ‘Is it not better to take one step in the right direction than two back into destruction.’
    • ‘With that said Duncan pushed back his chair with a loud scrape and left the room with long strides.’
    • ‘The foreshortened platform encouraged the actors to move back toward the scenic area of the stage.’
    • ‘Fifty minutes of the interview have elapsed and Eddie Jordan has pushed back his chair and jumped to his feet.’
    • ‘He closed more of the distance, pushed me so that there was no room to move back.’
    • ‘He told the room in general, and pushed his chair back, clearing his place at the table.’
    • ‘Nichole was jerked back towards Tristan as he grabbed the wrist on her other arm.’
    backwards, behind one, to one's rear, rearwards
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Expressing movement of the body into a reclining position.
      ‘he leaned back in his chair’
      ‘sit back and relax’
      • ‘Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom.’
      • ‘I smiled at Josh as he leaned back into his chair, hands crossed behind his head.’
      • ‘Pouring himself a glass of juice, he reclined back in the dining chair and sipped at his drink.’
      • ‘Kan leaned back against his office chair and crossed both feet at the corner of his desk.’
      • ‘Some camped it up, some got sleazy, others sat very far back in their cushions paralysed with fear.’
      • ‘He sits down at the head of the long board table, leans back and lights a large Cohiba cigar.’
      • ‘It permitted him to relax, lean back in the big comfortable seat and watch the scenery go by.’
      • ‘I don the headset, close my notebook, turn off the overhead light and lean back to enjoy the movie.’
      • ‘There was nothing to do but sit very still on the perfect settee without leaning back so as not to dent it.’
      • ‘I lean back in my chair like a director and order the most fattening food I've had in weeks.’
      • ‘After he had got the car on the highway, he relaxed, closing his eyes and leaning back.’
      • ‘As the link screen went blank, Van Tonder leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply.’
      • ‘The job was done in reasonably quick order and I leaned back to relax, panic over.’
      • ‘With a bit of a sigh she sat down at the base of a tree and leaned back against the trunk.’
      • ‘Steve sat down again and leaned back in his chair, tucking his hands behind his balding head.’
      • ‘With my neck craned back, I can count the screws in the shelves on the far side of the room.’
      • ‘Rankin leans back in his seat in the club canteen after training and extols the team spirit at his new home.’
      • ‘I lean back in my chair, feet up on the edge of the table and give the paper a flick.’
      • ‘He leans back, the point made, obviously feeling the figures speak for themselves.’
      • ‘It was there that I found him, leaning back in his chair, one foot propped on Connie's lap.’
      • ‘She leaned back in her chair and propped her feet into the basket under the chair in front of her.’
    2. 1.2 At a distance away.
      ‘I thought you were miles back’
      ‘the officer pushed the crowd back’
      • ‘Shortly before dawn, the police began pushing back the crowd from the centre of the square.’
      • ‘Sam patted his back in fake sympathy before pushing back her chair to leave the table.’
      • ‘It may be best to make the type very large and to sit far back from the screen.’
      • ‘The queues stretched back in both directions for hundreds of years the whole time I was there.’
      • ‘I can see four or five rigids a few miles back thermalling up at my level and a couple higher.’
      • ‘He had left the village some miles back and was deep in the English countryside now.’
      • ‘Within half an hour traffic tailed back 10 miles as far back as the West Yorkshire border.’
      • ‘At rush hour times, queues stretched back in the Braintree direction to the bypass roundabout.’
      • ‘Cars were slowly working through the single lane open, and traffic queued back in each direction.’
      away, at a distance
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3back ofNorth American informal Behind.
      ‘he knew that other people were back of him’
  • 2Expressing a return to an earlier or normal condition.

    ‘she put the book back on the shelf’
    ‘drive to Montreal and back’
    ‘I went back to sleep’
    ‘he was given his job back’
    • ‘Getting back to normal is the best thing I can hope for, but it'll be a different normal than it was before.’
    • ‘Once the floodwaters had peaked, it was still days before water levels were back to normal.’
    • ‘We note on the other hand that the applicant made it clear what he really wanted was his job back.’
    • ‘It was the middle of February before he got back into normal training, he says.’
    • ‘Three months have passed and everything seems to have gone back to normal.’
    • ‘Her reading, writing and concentration are improving and her diet is virtually back to normal.’
    • ‘Three years later her weight is back to normal and she has started to rebuild her life.’
    • ‘Once back in the office they find themselves trapped in a cycle of long hours and sleepless nights.’
    • ‘According to one press report, a union lawyer told him that there was no way for him to get his job back.’
    • ‘Once back in the UK, it is usually possible to get things sorted out to our satisfaction.’
    • ‘He also contacted the police once he got back to mainland Australia but was told they could not help.’
    • ‘They have faced five months of not knowing whether they would get their jobs back.’
    • ‘Marcia is not interested in getting her job back, but wishes to warn others.’
    • ‘He did not enjoy retirement at all so he loved being back in his normal daily routine.’
    • ‘Once back in Paris, the unrecognized Napoleon sets about mounting his comeback.’
    • ‘I am afraid, but I am also relieved that we will be able to get our lives back to normal again.’
    • ‘It is difficult to know, when, if ever, she can get her life back to normal.’
    • ‘I just know that if the girls hadn't been coming over I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep.’
    • ‘The secretary won her job back and the city has since been trying to do the same for its reputation.’
    • ‘Miraculously all he seems to require is a quick hug and a kiss where he bumped his head and he goes straight back to sleep.’
    1. 2.1 At a place previously left or mentioned.
      ‘the folks back home are counting on him’
      • ‘The good folks back home would never know the difference.’
      • ‘What is certain is that it will be very hard for the three men to slip back into their previous lives.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, back at Castle Leslie, the lack of heat affected every aspect of how we lived.’
      • ‘Meanwhile back at the London press conference, reactions were a little more muted.’
      • ‘Meanwhile back in the real world Clive has published his new pamphlet.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, back in Kansas Ananova has pictures of the world's most expensive shoes.’
      • ‘Meanwhile back in reality Kate, Locke and Michael have decided to brave the forest to hunt for food.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, back in the ring, Ferguson has come round and slowly stumbles to his feet.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, back at the camp Sara sat in her tent and ran her fingers through her hair.’
      • ‘We even went crawling back to our previous hovel but our beds had already been filled.’
      • ‘Wouldn't it be a good thing for the folks back home to be told this?’
      • ‘Certainly, once our emotions landed back to earth, we felt we should have won the game by more.’
      • ‘So they never actually see just how stupefyingly dull this sport can be for the folks back home.’
    2. 2.2 Fashionable again.
      ‘sideburns are back’
      • ‘Flat caps are back in fashion, you know!’
      • ‘We are trying to make the point that fur is never going to be back in fashion.’
      • ‘Today tying the knot is back in fashion, although the ceremony is as likely to take place in a stately home as a church.’
      • ‘Small companies, where many a retail punter likes to invest, are also back in fashion.’
      • ‘Now we live in a more crowded, environmentally aware age and trains are back in fashion.’
      • ‘Nowhere else in Scotland has exploded back into fashion like the Park area of Glasgow.’
      • ‘First time round it was terribly trendy, but it's horrific that it's actually back in fashion.’
      • ‘Then we were in a band called Flared Generation, where we tried to bring flares back into fashion.’
  • 3In or into the past.

    ‘he made his fortune back in 1955’
    • ‘The dead of the recent Boer War and all the wars back to Waterloo and beyond became figures of the past.’
    • ‘In the centre is a minuscule island housing a former monastery which dates back to the ninth century.’
    • ‘They want to get off the sales cycle and return to the glorious past that existed back at the dawn of the computing age.’
    • ‘That was just a fortune to me back in the 1960s, so for a week or so I was a high roller.’
    • ‘I went there once a couple years back, and had pretty much the same encounter.’
    • ‘Then last Friday they delivered a bunch of letters and packages some dating back to the past two years.’
    • ‘Go back a few years and past examples of new indices and trackers don't inspire much confidence either.’
    • ‘When Grant first conceived the film project a decade back he wrote to her.’
    • ‘It is pretty poor not to get a response to an MP's letter that was written back in December.’
    • ‘A few weeks back I mentioned this to Tom Smith and asked whether Williams had changed his ways.’
    • ‘Now, does anyone have any objection to my doing what I mentioned a few posts back?’
    • ‘Many times, historical fiction does the best job of leading the mind's eye back to past monarchs.’
    • ‘I think I may have heard him speak once, back then, but I don't remember it too clearly.’
  • 4In return.

    ‘they wrote back to me’
    • ‘He wrote back and said he hopes that they hear from me as the inquiry progresses.’
    • ‘He sent the publisher a letter asking for a real contract and the publisher never wrote back.’
    • ‘He must've thought I was grinning at him, so he smiled back and even gave me a little wave.’
    • ‘He wrote back agreeing it was a serious matter and would keep me informed as plans developed.’
    • ‘I stood up and smiled back, gave Jim a nod and calmly began to make my way over to the exit.’
    • ‘She smiles, I smile back, pick up the red wine I've bought her, and we make our way to a table.’
    • ‘Mowbray sometimes barks at Burley on the training ground, but the manager smiles back.’
    • ‘I invited him to visit us but he wrote back very nicely to say he couldn't come just at the moment.’
    • ‘Michele wrote back and said that she would be delighted to attend the prize-giving.’
    • ‘We wrote back and gave them our correct address, and invited them to drop by whenever was convenient.’
    • ‘So I emailed him the whole idea and he wrote back saying he wanted to read the script.’
    • ‘I want to shout back but I just smile from under my umbrella and carry on up the street.’
    • ‘I wrote back and asked if he was still married, or if he'd grown out of that phase, but got no reply.’
    • ‘I waved at her just as she looked up from her task and she smiled and waved back.’
    • ‘She smiled back at him, as he brought her hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles gently.’
    • ‘He replied simply as he smiled at me which caused me to give a slight smile back at him.’
    • ‘Since I had, as usual, gone to almost obsessive lengths to get my facts right, I wrote back.’
    • ‘You find it very hard to follow my letter, yet you somehow found the time to write me back.’
    • ‘I smiled back at him, a little confused, but followed the direction of his gaze.’
    • ‘It made the heart strings go just watching her and seeing her smile back at me.’

verb

  • 1with object Give financial, material, or moral support to.

    ‘he had a newspaper empire backing him’
    ‘go up there and tell them—I'll back you up’
    • ‘And the Executive has still not committed to backing the project financially.’
    • ‘Besides financial backing, he believes that amateur boxers need the service of a psychologist to keep them level-headed.’
    • ‘Such appeals, backed by suitable financial compensation, can be very effective.’
    • ‘But most union locals active in the race backed Ryan.’
    • ‘Each account was backed by the financial integrity of the U. S. Government.’
    • ‘At least 37 newspapers backed the president.’
    • ‘They will not nominate her but may consider backing her if she manages to enter the race.’
    • ‘In total 19 financial firms in the UK have backed the fund and pledged to match their employees' donations, pound for pound.’
    • ‘And now that the City of Toronto is officially and financially backing a study of green roofs, Toronto may finally be able to get a leg up in the market.’
    • ‘In all presidential elections but one since 1900, Missouri has backed the winning candidate.’
    • ‘The US, Britain and other Western powers backed the group financially and militarily.’
    • ‘He was a protégé and friend until he backed a rival in the 1995 presidential race.’
    • ‘This has led to a price war and regional airlines, which are backed by strong financing, are able to offer cheaper tickets than domestic airlines.’
    • ‘Having been backed with government finance since its genesis two years ago funding has been secured for the next two years.’
    • ‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the supporters who over the years have backed the team and personally showed me much kindness and loyalty.’
    • ‘By giving them two years to improve - backed by financial and practical help - more than 750 failing schools were turned around.’
    • ‘The truth is that we have cash in the bank, that first 8.0 sales are looking fantastic, and we are backed by our investors.’
    • ‘He is now a professional triathlete with 11 major sponsors backing him.’
    • ‘Added to this, the movie was shot largely on location in Ireland, with American money backing an Australian actor.’
    • ‘Against the odds he set up the choir, financially backed by Manchester city council.’
    sponsor, finance, put up the money for, fund, subsidize, underwrite, promote, lend one's name to, be a patron of, act as guarantor of, support
    support, endorse, sanction, approve of, give one's blessing to, smile on, favour, advocate, promote, uphold, champion
    support, stand by, give one's support to, side with, be on someone's side, take someone's side, take someone's part
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Supplement in order to reinforce or strengthen.
      ‘U.S. troops were backed up by forces from European countries’
      • ‘That is, there is no such thing as a law, administrative ruling, edict, decree, or government order of any kind that is not backed by the threat to use physical force to compel obedience to it.’
      • ‘Penetrating social analysis, backed by concrete examples, is the pamphlet's strength.’
      • ‘It was supported globally and was backed by RoadPeace, the national charity for road traffic victims.’
      • ‘India's military strength, backed by a nuclear deterrent, is growing.’
      • ‘But I believe the resolutions must be backed with the credible threat of military action.’
      • ‘And backed by this powerful strength we can accomplish achievements beyond our expectations.’
      • ‘Public education campaigning and enforcement, backed by industry support, has made drink driving unacceptable.’
      • ‘Political stability is maintained through the maintenance of social stability, backed by the threat or use of force should it break down.’
      • ‘Legal norms are generally backed by threats, which can ultimately be carried out by the state in its police role.’
      • ‘He also said the ‘old doctrine of deterrence’ was no longer enough and United Nations resolutions must now be backed by the threat of military force.’
      • ‘However, these statements were general in nature and were not backed by material evidence to support them.’
      • ‘All of the information had been vetted, supported, and backed by at least three sources.’
      • ‘This supplement is built on science and backed by results.’
      • ‘Every law, edict, ruling, decree, or regulation that a government issues is backed by the threat of physical force - even to the point of killing whoever does not obey it.’
      • ‘More than 30,000 troops have been massed in the region backed by 23 naval vessels, warplanes, tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery.’
      • ‘There is a lot of consensus in Zambia about the need to woo investment and induce growth in the economy, but this must be backed with concrete support measures.’
      • ‘The instruction was backed by veiled threats that their careers would be at risk if they did not comply.’
      • ‘When dealing with a brutal regime, diplomacy must be backed by credible force.’
      • ‘Papua New Guinea troops, backed by Australian logistical support, put down the insurrection.’
      • ‘Therefore he adopted a strategy of diplomacy backed with the threat of military force if required.’
      • ‘He has simply got on with the job and his district have built a firm and vocal support base backed by intelligent marketing.’
    2. 1.2 Be in favor of.
      ‘over 97 percent backed the changes’
      • ‘More than sixty percent of California voters backed Proposition 36.’
      • ‘On Monday the finance and general purposes committee backed a suggestion from the former mayor that a list of all of the council's valuable possessions should be drawn up.’
      • ‘Eighty-five per cent of voters backed plans to split the co-operative into two new entities - a processor co-op and a supply co-op.’
      • ‘Editorials in local newspapers backed the charter.’
      • ‘As for the issue in general, an ABC / Washington Post poll found that only 17 percent of respondents backed the proposal.’
      • ‘In a CNN viewers poll 80 percent said they backed his decision to place the state on alert.’
      • ‘The ban on smoking in pubs, backed by 70 percent of the population, is indicative of this.’
      • ‘The questionnaire showed 48 per cent of those surveyed backed the plan to test both types of vehicles over three years of age every six months.’
      • ‘The newspaper series is backing a campaign to ban the sale of monster fireworks to the public.’
      • ‘The GMB union said today 53 per cent backed industrial action.’
      • ‘The estate could now see a new pub or licensed social club after almost 90 percent of residents backed the idea.’
      • ‘But 99 per cent of those who backed the idea said they would like to see the regional assembly located in York.’
      • ‘Voters in California backed a $6bn measure aimed at financing stem cell research, an initiative flying in the face of White House opposition to the science.’
      • ‘The union announced that its 270,000 members had backed strikes by 67 per cent which could mean stoppages at courts across the district.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, 70 percent of teachers backed the strike.’
      • ‘But in a newspaper poll earlier this week, only 28 per cent of voters questioned backed the Tories.’
      • ‘The next favourite option for improving the town centre was building a new library, which 22 per cent of people backed.’
      • ‘The council put out a questionnaire to 2,600 residents and road users about the roundabout and 90 per cent backed it.’
      • ‘During consultation, more than 80 per cent of respondents backed the scheme.’
      • ‘A recent poll found that 62 percent of Spaniards backed the legislation.’
    3. 1.3 (in popular music) provide musical accompaniment to (a singer or musician)
      ‘brisk guitar work backed by drums, bass, fiddle, and accordion’
      • ‘The music business is bolstered by thousands of musicians backing more popular performers.’
      • ‘Mariah Carey and Neil Young were backed by gospel singers and Alicia Keys was joined by several gospel stars.’
      • ‘The album also features a sentimental speech by Ozzy Osbourne, and a spoken-word by the late Strait, about addiction, backed with very melancholic music.’
      • ‘The other side of Cuban music was the romantic ballads of people like Beny Moré - florid, sentimental stories backed by the sensual music of Oriente.’
      • ‘The recorded narration begins, a booming voice backed with dramatic music; all in French.’
      • ‘This track's got it all: rhythmic, sharp guitar riffs backed by pounding kick drum and throbbing bass - and the cowbell!’
      • ‘Central Band's rhythm section also backed singer/songwriter Drew McAlister and the horn section joined in with The Choirboys.’
      • ‘The bizarre inventions featured in the series have been assembled into a seven-minute featurette and backed with narration and music.’
      • ‘The focus of Low Kick And Hard Bop is the harmonizing of vocals backed by an electronic-tinged music.’
      • ‘They backed a singer called Johnny Gentle in 1960 at Alloa town hall, the Shea stadium of the northeast.’
      • ‘Wouldn't it have been good to see Starr backing Sir Paul McCartney at Hyde Park?’
      • ‘Yep, aggressive lyrics and guitar riffs, all backed by the trademark thumping drums, with only moments of calm to provide a respite from the headbanging.’
      play a musical accompaniment for, play with, play for, support
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 Bet money on (a person or animal) winning a race or contest.
      ‘he backed the horse at 33–1’
      • ‘I didn't back him in the Irish Derby, but at those odds on Saturday, he was an unbelievable bet.’
      • ‘You can always back a horse trained by Johnston in the knowledge that it is there to try and win’
      • ‘You may have been a great gambler but you've backed the wrong horse this time.’
      • ‘We all backed her and obviously had a very quiet night after she romped home at 14-1!’
      • ‘It takes the pressure off and you can be more selective about which races you back horses in.’
      • ‘But no one much is backing him to land the title - at 33/1 that seems batty to me.’
      • ‘Then again, no horse as won the Melbourne Cup two years in a row, and I backed the winning horse this year.’
      • ‘On that occasion, the 25-year-old Morley was backing the Bulls.’
      • ‘I backed him last year when he won, so I stayed with him this year.’
      • ‘It gives viewers good idea of the factors that go into backing successful racehorses’
      • ‘For most of us, picking an investment fund is like backing a horse.’
      • ‘There are so many ways of losing a race, and if someone has backed a horse to lose, in order to ‘throw’ that race you only have to ‘fix’ one horse.’
      • ‘Punters believing the flashy chestnut son of Lord Ballina to be as unbeatable as Sunline backed him in to just short of odds-on favorite.’
      • ‘Those who had backed him, and there were plenty, were never in any real doubt.’
      • ‘I don't have a huge understanding of the markets and would consider it akin to backing a horse.’
      • ‘Some owners won't put girls up on horses, and some people wouldn't back a horse with a girl riding.’
      • ‘Backing the wrong horse is no disgrace, providing you had good reason to put your money on it.’
      • ‘Before the National, our co-worker e-mailed his friend to say he was backing a horse to win the Grand National as a tribute to his girl.’
      • ‘For the overwhelming majority it is harmless fun on a par with backing a horse in the Grand National.’
      • ‘I saw Kris Kin win at Chester and backed him after that for the Derby at 20-1.’
      • ‘If you back the wrong horse at the start of the race, as any bookmaker will tell you, your chances of gaining a favourable return are slim.’
      bet on, place a bet on, gamble on, stake money on
      View synonyms
  • 2with object Cover the back of (an object) in order to support, protect, or decorate it.

    ‘a mirror backed with tortoiseshell’
    • ‘Candlestick stems are topped with silk shades, wall lights are backed with Venetian mirrors and slender brass stems are capped by plated shades.’
    • ‘The large mirror was backed with silver.’
    • ‘This is a thin film that's been coated onto a flexible plastic material backed by a strong glue.’
    • ‘It was a tiny piece of glass backed with a layer of silver that was peeling in spots.’
    cover, put a lining in, put a backing on, interline, face, panel, inlay, reinforce, encase
    View synonyms
  • 3no object, with adverbial of direction Walk or drive backward.

    ‘she tried to back away’
    figurative ‘the administration backed away from the plan’
    with object ‘he backed the Mercedes into the yard’
    ‘backing down the stairs’
    • ‘He moved around her and backed toward the left side of the room.’
    • ‘Forlock stretched out and backed against the the side of the wall.’
    • ‘Marle backed up and Gohan grabbed her arms as she backed into him.’
    • ‘The Government has backed away from imposing a total ban on 4x4 vehicles from the 6,000 year old Ridgeway trail.’
    • ‘He has rarely backed away from a challenge.’
    • ‘He was grinning and he immediately invaded her personal space, backing her against the locker beside hers.’
    • ‘A block away, he passed two men sitting in a car backed into a dirt side road.’
    • ‘Kiara slowly backed away from the door and walked towards her desk.’
    • ‘Recently, however, the Government has backed away from its claims that the purpose of mandatory sentencing was to reduce crime.’
    • ‘Manufacturers have backed away from making flu vaccines simply because it isn't profitable.’
    • ‘She backed away from him, walking a short distance away.’
    • ‘Raiana slowly let go of Damon's arm, and backed to the side as King Dominic approached them.’
    • ‘The government has backed away from its plans to decriminalise consensual sexual behaviour between teenagers.’
    • ‘He started walking towards her and she backed away from him and left the room without realizing it.’
    • ‘Today he backed away from that statement, saying he was misinformed by exit polls.’
    • ‘Tori glared daggers at him, and she looked so mad that his hands fell to his sides and he backed away in fear.’
    • ‘The mayor said it was disappointing that the Government had backed away from the deal.’
    • ‘The government has backed away from announcing changes to its controversial policy in a move that has angered both farming and green groups.’
    • ‘I backed away from the door, more frightened than comforted.’
    • ‘We backed away from the building as it collapsed, and I looked around at the others.’
    reverse, drive backwards, move backwards
    draw back, step back, move away, back off, retreat, withdraw, pull back, give ground
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 (of the wind) change direction counterclockwise around the points of the compass.
      ‘the wind had backed to the northwest’
      The opposite of veer
      • ‘But when the wind is backed slightly towards the northwest the winds come over a longer stretch of the North Sea bringing more cloud.’
      • ‘With winds backing to the south and the southwest the fall-out from nuclear explosions would be driven into Afghanistan and China.’
      veer, alter, change, vary, fluctuate, turn, swing, change direction
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2Sailing with object Put (a sail) aback in order to slow the vessel down.
      • ‘Hornblower watched as both ships backed the mainsails, turned the helm hard over, and took up the prescribed position.’
      • ‘The captain backs the vessel's huge dive platform up to the sites.’
      • ‘With smooth proficiency, the trimmers backed the jib, and the mainsail was eased, swinging the bow around.’
  • 4no object (of a property) have its back adjacent to (a piece of land or body of water)

    ‘his garage wall backs onto the neighboring property’
    ‘a row of cottages backed on the water’
    • ‘Just off the N11, about 5km from Bray, the house backs on to what is currently a building site, but will soon be home to Dun Laoghaire Golf Club.’
    • ‘The counter appears longer and slightly lower and now backs on to a solid wall rather than the doorway into a mysterious treasure room as in the previous set up.’
    • ‘Demolition is planned for a disused printworks called the McCormick Building, which backs on to the Mas nightclub in Royal Exchange Square, in the centre of the city's shopping district.’
    • ‘Police say some of the homes have suffered up to a metre of flood water after a stream, which the area backs on to, broke its banks.’
    • ‘The site, which backs on to two residential streets, is also worrying residents who say the area is an eyesore and has become a breeding ground for rats.’
    • ‘Priciest of them - at £475,000-is a three-storey brick-built building backing on to the city walls.’
    • ‘The firm wants to demolish the furniture centre and put up a horseshoe-shaped building facing Matalan and backing on to Drake Street.’
    • ‘Police were called to the one-bedroomed property, which backs on to the city walls at Moatside Court, by neighbours complaining about a bad smell.’
    • ‘The enclosure - an area of grass the size of a small room surrounded by a 3.5m-high wire fence backing on to a demountable building - had been purpose-built for Neil.’
    1. 4.1usually be backedwith object Lie behind or at the back of.
      ‘the promenade is backed by lots of cafes’
      • ‘The Camai stage in the school gym was backed with six large panels decorated with masks and sculptures.’
      • ‘We went to the south, which I found very gracious, with its beautiful beaches backed by mountains covered with tea and spice plantations.’
      • ‘The highlight of the gig was Superhero Music, backed with fantastic visuals on the cinema screen - the tune whisks you off to another world.’
    2. 4.2 Put a song or piece of music on the less important side of (a recording)
      ‘the new single is backed with a track from the LP’
      • ‘For the purists and strays who like to compare remix treatments with the originals, this is backed by the original album version.’

adjective

  • 1Of or at the back of something.

    ‘the back garden’
    ‘the back pocket of his jeans’
    • ‘You hesitate for a few seconds and your new friend Bob starts fumbling in his back pocket.’
    • ‘Your back garden may well not be a public place by the legal definition.’
    • ‘It was my mum who introduced me to gardening, even if it was something as simple as pottering in the back garden.’
    • ‘Mr Coen had been thrown to the rear of the cab and partially out the back window.’
    • ‘I was just passing by the main bedroom when this dark figure shot past me towards the back bedroom.’
    • ‘About 5 years ago I had some doors made for my house to lead out to the back garden.’
    • ‘Basically, it pays to read the back label if you want an idea of how it's going to taste.’
    • ‘We need a fourth bedroom, an office, a downstairs toilet, a bigger back garden and a driveway.’
    • ‘No doubt he steered clear of the back garden view as night fell on Caledonian Stadium.’
    • ‘The suspects took the second victim's mobile phone from his back pocket before fleeing.’
    • ‘The man then remembered he had a ticket in his back pocket that had been through the wash a few times.’
    • ‘When the rain started coming down, the back garden just filled up and started seeping into the house.’
    • ‘Even on Sundays, people would be looking at cars and have full view into our back garden.’
    • ‘The master bedroom is painted in cream and has great views of the colourful back garden.’
    • ‘The first thing I am going to do is tear up the back driveway and plant grass to finish out the rear lawn.’
    • ‘The boys have dyed hair, keychains dangling from their back pockets and black nail polish.’
    • ‘Your back garden is full of majestic redwood trees, towering high above you.’
    • ‘Mrs Gaspar grabbed at her arm as she ran past her and out onto the back verandah.’
    • ‘When I reserved back, they threw a big rock out of my garden through the back window.’
    • ‘Varying amounts of the poison have been thrown into the back gardens of some of the houses.’
    • ‘The family's new drive became a mudbath and water seeped through the house and garage into the back garden.’
    • ‘There were orchards along the terrace and we had a back garden with trees and a view of the River Dodder.’
    rear
    end, hind, hindmost, rearmost
    dorsal, posterior
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Situated in a remote or subsidiary position.
      ‘back roads’
      • ‘From a length of back road we could see tributaries splashing down through woods.’
      • ‘A back road took us through Rudland, a name most associated with the nearby Rudland Rigg.’
      • ‘Mr Wilkins had to use back roads to get home from the market where he had been doing his shopping.’
      • ‘I've ambled down quiet back roads where tiny children laugh their way home from school.’
      • ‘They rode in silence most of the way to his house, until they reached the back road that lead to his home.’
      • ‘There are many little back roads and alleyways that are usually used as shortcuts into the town centre.’
      • ‘There are dozens of tech success stories hidden down back roads all over the country.’
      • ‘The drivers go down the back road and use their air brakes, pressing their horns all the way down to the bottom.’
      • ‘Soon we reached Elm Ledge, a very quiet back road that offers an easy shortcut route.’
      • ‘The back road between Earby and Lothersdale was clogged with struggling vehicles.’
      • ‘This is the back road from Old Byland to Hawnby that is closed at the moment at a ford.’
      • ‘He claimed there was a lack of urgency to tackle safety problems on the A64 and also local back roads.’
      • ‘A full moon lit their way as they slipped down a back road and slit the chain-link fence with bolt cutters.’
      • ‘This space is a maze of back roads, a pattern of small hills, fine houses and pretty little villages.’
      • ‘They approached the side road that took them around to the back entrance.’
      • ‘He walked westward and out of the village by the back way to avoid the Roman sentry on the road.’
      • ‘She had found Rissa stranded out on the back roads of Bennett at the age of three.’
      • ‘Local people know how to get there down the back roads because they are looking for it but passing traffic is missing it.’
      • ‘That was when I realised that it is a long, steady rise from the back road across the fen to our village.’
      • ‘Double yellow lines to be introduced in some back roads to improve access to properties’
  • 2(especially of wages or something published or released) from or relating to the past.

    ‘she was owed back pay’
    • ‘Registration books and all the back registration to pay are a few of the hassles.’
    • ‘The bus drivers union organized the job action to demand back pay owed to the drivers.’
    • ‘It has to be applied for and if left longer than three months after the retirement birthday, no back pay will be given.’
    • ‘They must pay off their back tax and show that the vehicles are properly insured before they can be driven away.’
    past, old, previous, earlier, former, out of date
    View synonyms
  • 3Directed toward the rear or in a reversed course.

    ‘back currents’
  • 4Phonetics
    (of a sound) articulated at the back of the mouth.

    • ‘Finnish is well known for possessing a front-back vowel harmony system.’
    • ‘Canadian back vowels are pronounced with the tongue bunched slightly.’
    • ‘Back vowels have their name because the sound resonates at the back of the mouth.’

Phrases

  • at someone's back

    • In pursuit or support of someone.

      • ‘Now that I've got the will of the people at my back, I'm going to start enforcing the one-question rule.’
      • ‘I just jumped down into this crevice, behind this big boulder and then there's a god almighty ‘bang’ as the forth RPG comes in at my back.’
      • ‘The country is secure, no longer having its neighbor's tank armies and radical nationalist influence at its back.’
      • ‘You get the ball and you give it straight away as you have a man at your back.’
      • ‘‘I've got the will of the people at my back,’ he said at the moment of victory.’
  • back and forth

    • To and fro.

      • ‘Both had to hold onto the shaky rails as they headed down, for the ship was swaying back and forth with the waves.’
      • ‘It clouded over while I showered and then flipped back and forth between sunny and gloomy.’
      • ‘It works just fine - you can easily bring the tone up and down by moving your hand back and forth.’
      • ‘They held a conversation that was made up entirely of subtle expressions passed back and forth.’
      • ‘We walked over to the Liverpool fans, a ball was thrown over the fence and we kicked it back and forth with them.’
      • ‘The football was frantic and in the stands the chants bounced back and forth.’
      • ‘We go back and forth like this until one of us gets bored or offended by what the other said.’
      • ‘The chapters move back and forth over time, but in the masterly hands of Littell this is not a problem.’
      • ‘She wanted to see the horse in his true magnificence, to rock back and forth on his broad back.’
      • ‘Ms. Keagan's mom looked from her son to Trey, then back and forth again several times.’
      • ‘The three high clerics looked at each other, leaning over to whisper thoughts back and forth.’
      • ‘Cars were parked everywhere and everyone was rushing back and forth, in and out of the driveway.’
      • ‘When you move your eyes quickly back and forth and read a book you have an emotional response and imagery.’
      • ‘Endless recounts saw power shift back and forth between the Tory and Labour groups.’
      • ‘Having the team split between the two buildings meant they had to go back and forth between the two.’
      • ‘I sat on the floor and rocked back and forth, crying until he called out to me.’
      • ‘The best way to involve a reader is to start at the beginning of a story and go on to the end, and not whizz back and forth.’
      • ‘Mrs Holmes says so many lorries come back and forth that it can be dangerous walking through the area.’
      • ‘He drives back and forth at night in order to spend two full days with Jeremy on each visit.’
      • ‘Radio messages flew back and forth to Moscow asking what to do before the situation was resolved.’
      from place to place, around, about, to and fro, hither and thither, back and forth, in all directions, from pillar to post
      View synonyms
  • the back of one's mind

    • Used to express that something is in one's mind but is not consciously thought of or remembered.

      ‘she had a little nagging worry at the back of her mind’
      • ‘You've just got to put that to the back of your mind and make sure it doesn't restrict you.’
      • ‘There are a few worries in the back of your mind but you shut them out - you have a job to do and so you get on and do it.’
      • ‘I'm out of contract at the end of the season and you try not to think about that but it's at the back of your mind.’
      • ‘Lia had pushed the remembrance of hers in the back of her mind so it couldn't affect her any more.’
      • ‘Sitting on a crowded train, one overheard conversation might catch your attention and remain in the back of your mind for the rest of the day.’
      • ‘It occurred to her that though she didn't think of it consciously, it was at the back of her mind.’
      • ‘But, as I said to someone the other day, there is always a ‘maybe’ in the back of your mind.’
      • ‘But, she said, there was always the worry at the back of your mind about future flooding.’
      • ‘But it's always there in the back of your mind and you just sort of live with it.’
      • ‘It's kind of in the back of your mind all the time.’
      • ‘There was something nagging him in the back of his mind, and he just couldn't figure it out.’
      • ‘Even when you had successfully performed every other task, the problem of money always remained, a persistent, nagging worry at the back of one's mind.’
      • ‘I consciously try and push it to the back of my mind while I savour a bit of relaxation.’
      • ‘You've always got the risk in the back of your mind but if you're told to get on with a job, you just do it.’
      • ‘You do always, in the back of your mind, know that there's a possibility they're not coming home.’
      • ‘He admitted that Benny is constantly on his mind, and Joe is often in the back of his mind.’
      • ‘Mrs Patel added: ‘We are getting on with our lives but there is always that fear in the back of your mind.’’
      • ‘It all nagged at the back of my mind and was beginning to really eat into me when, on Thursday, the phone finally rang.’
      • ‘I had these small worries in the back of my mind that I didn't want to grow and haunt me.’
      • ‘In the back of her mind, she would have to remember who she truly was, and who she truly loved.’
  • back to front

    • Reversed; backward.

      ‘the exhausts had been fitted back to front’
      ‘a back-to-front baseball cap’
      • ‘I was holding it back to front so the logo couldn't be seen.’
      • ‘Kirsty, who was born with her heart back to front and other organs misplaced, was given only six weeks to live in 1999.’
      • ‘The jury had heard that Mr Roberts said in a statement to police that he might have looked at Mr Reeves's X-rays back to front before the operation.’
      • ‘The whole thing seemed upside down, back to front.’
      • ‘This time I was going to do something I already knew, inside out, back to front, sideways.’
      • ‘But get this, the policy does cover out patient treatment of the same kind, which seems a bit back to front to me.’
      • ‘Three times I was woken by the buzzer noise, half dressed, twice put on my hooded top back to front, fell over my slippers and stumbled to the door to be of help.’
      • ‘Kirsty, who was born with her heart back to front and with other major organs misplaced, will compete in her wheelchair in a three kilometres junior race.’
      • ‘Yet he inadvertently put his top on back to front, wearing No 19 on his chest for a few minutes before realising.’
      • ‘Faults included wires hanging out of walls, holes in the ceilings, door handles fitted back to front and broken tiles.’
      • ‘Then he put a kilt on for the first time in his life and managed to wear it back to front.’
      • ‘Pupils at at Southbroom Junior School came up with a different fundraising twist when they wore their clothes back to front to help raise money.’
      • ‘She later underwent a ten-hour operation to correct a fault where the heart chambers were back to front.’
      • ‘Any new leader will find it completely impossible to lead a party that is split from back to front, from left to right and from side to centre.’
      • ‘Just because young people listen to loud music and wear baseball caps back to front, it does not mean they are on drugs.’
      • ‘The fellow had his cap on back to front just as you did when you were milking by hand as it meant your head fitted more snugly into the cow's flank without the cap neb being in the way.’
      • ‘SIR - Am I living in a parallel universe, where everything is back to front?’
      • ‘‘You know, the baseball caps on back to front, mobile phone glued to the ear, the unbridled arrogance,’ he recalled.’
      • ‘The library books had been shelved back to front.’
      • ‘The top is a unique reversible front to back, back to front style.’
  • back water

    • Reverse the action of the oars while rowing, causing a boat to slow down or stop.

      • ‘After a successful ram, ships could back water and go after another enemy, but one wonders how many such shocks a ship could take.’
  • back the wrong horse

    • Make a wrong or inappropriate choice.

      • ‘Most are dedicated, caring men who just happen to have backed the wrong horse.’
      • ‘Are we going to back the wrong horse sometimes?’
      • ‘But time has shown that the government backed the wrong horse.’
      • ‘On that occasion he most certainly backed the wrong horse.’
      • ‘Is it time to say sorry for backing the wrong horse?’
      • ‘The diversification should help to reduce the risk in case you back the wrong horse.’
      • ‘Then he got down on one knee and said, ‘I'm sorry we backed the wrong horse.'’
      • ‘The majority of intelligent, sensitive artists, writers, painters, musicians backed the wrong horse for a long time in the 20th century.’
      • ‘This harshness will doubtless be exacerbated by the fact that they backed the wrong horse in the telecoms market.’
      • ‘With the calling of parliament in 1640 it became apparent that Huntingdon had backed the wrong horse.’
      • ‘A jumble of investments created as an alternative to losing all one's money backing a single horse.’
      • ‘In the latter case, I think he backed the wrong horse, but we'll come to that later.’
      • ‘I think most of the critics are backing the wrong horse in seeing the issue of testing for recreational drugs as a make or break issue.’
      • ‘In exploring the rhetoric of singularity, then, I might seem to be backing the wrong horse.’
      • ‘Any reader who doesn't itch to pick up a pencil at this point is perhaps backing the wrong horse.’
  • behind someone's back

    • Without a person's knowledge and in an unfair or dishonorable way.

      ‘Carla made fun of him behind his back’
      • ‘In Wales they all speak behind your back in their mother tongue and you don't know what they're saying.’
      • ‘He was wearing green silk pajamas that we all secretly teased him for behind his back.’
      • ‘But what's worse than people speaking rudely to your face is doing so behind your back, especially when it's not true.’
      • ‘Your friends are smoking behind your back and not telling you.’
      • ‘It's all very well to dress to please yourself, but you wouldn't want to hear what they say about you behind your back when you do.’
      • ‘Find out what people are saying about you behind your back.’
      • ‘Do you often feel that many people are talking about you behind your back?’
      • ‘Your friend is being honest with you, which is a good thing: it would be worse for her to go behind your back and flirt with him.’
      • ‘We're telling jokes about you behind your back.’
      • ‘We're having a secret rendezvous behind Droven 's back.’
      • ‘How can you trust them with the children in your charge when they are breaking rules and laws behind your back.’
      • ‘There is one thing about people talking about you behind your back; it is quite another thing being humiliated in a newsletter.’
      • ‘In fact he had done many a vile thing behind her back without her knowledge.’
      • ‘Friends and family will comment on the difference immediately - if only behind your back.’
      • ‘It can help when you need to brag or blow off steam or tell a secret or even talk behind someone's back.’
      • ‘They may agree that everyone's doing it nowadays, but they're still laughing behind your back.’
      • ‘Who is more critical of you and more likely to pass comments on how you look/what you wear and gossip behind your back?’
      • ‘Someone close to you has done something behind your back, knowing that it would hurt you deeply if you found out.’
      • ‘She didn't go skulking around behind your back.’
      • ‘But while your friends snigger behind your back, all you worry about - initially, at any rate - is sleep and how to get some.’
      secretly, without someone's knowledge, on the sly, deceitfully, slyly, sneakily, covertly, surreptitiously, furtively
      View synonyms
  • get (or put) someone's back up

    • Make someone annoyed or angry.

      • ‘Something seems to have got his back up.’
      • ‘It is not easy to be inclusive, but it is your obligation to not only try, but to not get your back up when people call you on things.’
      • ‘Her only mistake was in over-playing her hand and getting my back up.’
      • ‘David's post really got my back up.’
      • ‘It just put my back up and made me more and more determined that I was going to speak out.’
      • ‘If there's one phrase that gets my back up, it's people talking about ‘dumping the kids at the creche.’’
      • ‘If someone approaches in an aggressive manner then it puts your back up, but we have bent over backwards to help people.’
      • ‘The reverse side of this is favouritism, which also gets my back up.’
      • ‘Lecturing and name-calling tends to put my back up.’
      • ‘Throughout the evening girls had been coming up to Gavin and flirting with him, which understandably got Charlotte 's back up.’
      • ‘It was a statement, not a question, spoken in an arrogant, challenging way that immediately put Diana 's back up.’
      • ‘Lund said: ‘It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, but this ban has really got my back up.’’
      • ‘Of course this gets her back up completely, but I'm past caring now.’
      • ‘There's no point in getting your back up over something which is an honest mistake.’
      • ‘I must admit to finding his tone of writing to being rather condescending, which initially put my back up.’
      • ‘I can tell when people are smoking nearby and I'm out in the open air and it just puts my back up.’
      • ‘He immediately got Patricia 's back up by promising to fight harder for funds.’
      • ‘That's something that's almost guaranteed to get my back up.’
      • ‘So when I got this letter asking us to contribute a few days ago, it really got my back up.’
      • ‘And his questions were exactly the kind that would get my back up.’
      annoy, irritate, vex, make angry, make cross, anger, exasperate, irk, gall, pique, put out, displease, antagonize, get on someone's nerves, rub up the wrong way, ruffle, ruffle someone's feathers, make someone's hackles rise, raise someone's hackles
      View synonyms
  • in back

    • At the back of something, especially a building.

      ‘my dad demolished an old shed in back of his barn’
      • ‘The window itself looks out on the track and football field in back of the school.’
      • ‘As we continued out to the ship, one of the crew in back told us the same thing had happened on the previous day.’
      • ‘The three cops got in back with many words of thanks and offered me an orange.’
      • ‘Small fenced gardens were in back of most of the huts, and chickens seemed to be everywhere.’
      • ‘His hair was cut short in back, but long silver strands fell softly into his eyes.’
      • ‘They had been kept away because the trees that you see fallen in back of me had been on the roads.’
      • ‘By then, the cars in back had almost caught up, and were trailing right behind us.’
      • ‘I felt my eyes roll in back of my head, the way it happens when you are falling asleep while watching TV.’
      • ‘He took the duffel bag from Kellie and threw it in back of one of the SUVs that was in Jones' driveway.’
      • ‘My right leg is a little sore in back, and that just came about today.’
      • ‘I could see a garden and path leading into the forest, which was in back of the building.’
      • ‘The manager at our local grocery keeps it locked up in the safe in back - you have to ask for it special.’
      • ‘The tight pant legs just touch the top of the boot heel in back and break one time on the instep.’
      • ‘The conversation spread across the aisle, then to the seat in front, the row in back.’
      • ‘When she woke up, the sun was setting in the western horizon, in back of the plane.’
      • ‘I tried offering the front seat to Anna, but he insisted she sit in back with Matt and Travis.’
      • ‘Those in front of them were pushing them back, those in back of them were pushing them forward.’
      • ‘Boxer had dropped me off in back of the club, before heading inside and finding a table near the stage.’
      • ‘I sat in the passenger seat and Erik in the drivers seat with Dan and Jake in back.’
      • ‘The beast's whiskers touched the front of the tub and its tail curled up in back.’
  • know something like the back of one's hand

    • Be entirely familiar with a place or route.

      • ‘You'll know this place like the back of your hand in no time.’
      • ‘I'm sure Adam would've gone into the mountains - he knows them like the back of his hand.’
      • ‘Dracula undoubtedly knows this island like the back of his hand.’
      • ‘He's also a great caddie who knows the course like the back of his hand.’
      • ‘He has been working the land at Mersehead, on the Solway Firth, for 30 years, and knows it like the back of his hand.’
      • ‘I'm sure you'll find something on the docks; you know them like the back of your hand after all.’
      • ‘‘I know this village like the back of my hand,’ he says.’
      • ‘Nearly all my riding is done in the country East Sussex and Kent and I know it like the back of my hand as I've been there so much.’
      • ‘She knew the procedure like the back of her hand.’
      • ‘It has an owner who knows it like the back of his hand.’
      • ‘John races locally and knows the trails like the back of his hand, so keeping up with him was no easy task.’
      • ‘Their house is exactly the same inside as mine so I know it like the back of my hand.’
      • ‘I nodded as we began walking towards the stables, ‘Tori knows this place like the back of her hand.’’
      • ‘I have been in the industry for 14 years and know it like the back of my hand.’
      • ‘After all, this is his neighborhood, so he knows it like the back of his hand.’
      • ‘Casey didn't bother to turn on the light in this end of the room, knowing it like the back of her hand.’
      • ‘Not only that, but much of the land in this region of Wyoming is owned by ranchers who know the terrain like the back of their hand, and have become adept at spotting fossils.’
      • ‘He knew the city like the back of his hand but tonight he couldn't see anything resembling a familiar landmark.’
      • ‘He and his team know the area like the back of their hand; not much escapes their attention.’
      • ‘But Waymaster Fintaal was raised in Elithanor, and he knows the woods like the back of his hand.’
  • on one's back

    • 1In bed recovering from an injury or illness.

      • ‘Since Mom's still flat on her back in hospital, we can safely deduce she's not to blame.’
      • ‘As a patient, you spend a great deal of time, sometimes days at a time in severe situations, flat on your back and staring at stained acoustic tiles.’
      • ‘A panicked man shot out of the carriage and ran to the back where I lay flat on my back, not moving.’
      • ‘The latter two spent several years flat on their back unable to do anything.’
      • ‘Exercise really hard and increase your training volume quickly, and you may end up flat on your back with an upper respiratory infection.’
      • ‘I found it hard to feel much joy for anything flat on my back after kidney surgery.’
      • ‘For the next six years, I spent most of my days flat on my back in unrelenting pain.’
      • ‘Children with such injuries should be kept on their back with a protective shield over the eye if possible.’
      • ‘For the first six days after surgery, I had to lie flat on my back in the hospital bed.’
      1. 1.1Full-length on the ground.
        ‘he slipped off the heap and landed flat on his back’
        • ‘I suddenly found myself flat on my back, the wind knocked out of me without even a chance to cry out.’
        • ‘‘When you're lying on the ground, flat on your back, you can't fall any further,’ he said.’
        • ‘I clutched my hand to my chest and took a step backwards, falling out of the van and flat on my back.’
        • ‘The power blasted out from her body, knocking Devi across the room and flat on her back.’
        • ‘One of the times I was looking behind me, I ended up running into a wall and falling flat on my back.’
        • ‘Before I can react he jumps on me causing me to lose my balance and I fall flat on my back with him on top of me.’
        • ‘Before you can even respond, you're flat on your back, pulverized by its sheer force.’
        • ‘The guy landed flat on his back, growling he opened his eyes to the gleaming barrel of a gun.’
        • ‘You lie on your side, not flat on your back as in the above variations.’
        • ‘You are flat on your back on the floor, pressing up toward the ceiling with your legs.’
        • ‘‘Therefore, it might be that we have our most creative thoughts while flat on our back,’ he said.’
        • ‘I hit the concrete ground flat on my back, my bag falling from my hands with a ‘thud’ next to me.’
        • ‘With a loud thud, I was thrown off the bike, and hit the ground, landing on my back.’
        • ‘He reached out to it, to the light and was soon knocked flat on his back and did not wake for some time.’
        • ‘The next thing Melanie knew, she was back in the forested area, lying flat on her back.’
        • ‘I flip Riley over my shoulder and he lands on the ground on his back, with a loud thud.’
        • ‘Then, someone kicked me in the stomach, and threw me to the floor flat on my back.’
        • ‘The bottle rolled under my foot, and I fell flat on my back, sending my tray of trash in the air.’
        • ‘I felt something hit me in my stomach, and landed flat on my back, crying out in pain.’
        • ‘Ziana was propelled across the room and ended up flat on her back on the floor.’
  • put one's back into

    • Approach (a task) with vigor.

      • ‘Staten put his back into the task now facing him with renewed vigour.’
      • ‘Rosamund Young is putting her back into her campaign by picking up litter from the hedgerows, lay-bys and verges of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.’
      • ‘He is the fastest bowler in the world, but he was not really putting his back into it.’
      • ‘She really puts her back into it, which is missing in the full screen version.’
      • ‘He put his back into it and I hope he gets the reward he deserves,’ says Fitzpatrick, 55, a trade unionist involved in the recent wage settlement.’
      • ‘You've got to put your back into it and head into the wind.’
      • ‘Gregory only smiled, and put his back into helping lift the heavy tables.’
      • ‘And, it was the first time the Australians put their back into the promotion of the tour.’
      • ‘Radcliffe is shivering and covered in goosebumps, but no matter: as most of the world knows, she is a trouper, the kind of girl that puts her back into whatever she does.’
      persevere with, persist with, keep at, work at, continue with, carry on with, go on with, not give up with, hammer away at, stay with, follow through, see through, go the distance, stay the course
      View synonyms
  • turn one's back on

    • 1Ignore (someone) by turning away.

      • ‘I turn my back on Anja and her gang and walk away deciding to ignore them for the rest of the day.’
      • ‘Without waiting for an answer, I turned my back on him again, trying to ignore the rather intimidating presence of Will standing behind me.’
      • ‘Ms. Aiken scoffed slightly and turned her back on Tristyn to make her way back to the front of the class.’
      • ‘She froze, then turned her back on him and started walking towards the waterfall.’
      • ‘Rather oddly, the fireman sporting a handlebar moustache about to sip a saucer of hot cocoa is ignoring the fire ragtag behind him and turns his back on two colleagues who are tackling it.’
      • ‘Don't turn your back on me, I won't be ignored!’
      • ‘You just had to walk away, turn your back on me, ignore me.’
      • ‘Karina nearly turned her back on all this but she suddenly heard noises coming from her room.’
      • ‘Jessie's already in the gym, and when she sees me walk in with Eva she just turns her back on me and IGNORES me.’
      • ‘Before his hot temper could boil out wrongfully, Ryuko turned his back on the guardian and walked wordlessly off.’
      • ‘He turned his back on Brett, trying to ignore him.’
      • ‘He went, and it cost him his life. You can almost hear her saying to his spirit, ‘How dare you spurn me and turn your back on me?’’
      • ‘I turned away quickly, jumping the stairs two at a time to my room, ignoring the screams of, ‘Don't you turn your back on me!’’
      snub, slight, spurn, shun, disdain, look right through, look past, give someone the cold shoulder, cold-shoulder, freeze out, steer clear of
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Reject or abandon.
        ‘she turned her back on her career to devote her life to animals’
        • ‘Her grandmother had never, ever turned her back on anyone, not even the family that ignored her while she was alive.’
        • ‘Here, it seemed to be saying, is a party that stands for something that the others have turned their back on: real equality and the redistribution of wealth.’
        • ‘But more importantly, you've got to turn your back on all this negative campaigning.’
        • ‘Accept this, and be not afraid to turn your back on what you were in order to become something else.’
        • ‘Now there is her British debut, which is more of a homecoming than people realise. ‘I love living in America, but I could never turn my back on who I am,’ she says.’
        • ‘I have got a job and have turned my back on my previous lifestyle.’
        • ‘What we've done is turned our back on those people, we've abandoned them and said that ‘You're not worthy of having a news service.’
        • ‘You couldn't help thinking of people at school who you'd turned your back on, when vicious cliques had made their days a misery.’
        • ‘I turned my back on him, I had rejected him, I had walked away from him.’
        • ‘He was turning his back on all these people that had worked for him and essentially, like a general abandoning his army in the field just before a decisive battle.’
        • ‘You know, the kind of guy you would never turn your back on in a million years.’
        • ‘But she had thrown them away, turned her back on them to chase heroism.’
        • ‘She turned her back on nine years of teaching and began the daunting task of learning a new profession.’
        • ‘He's turned his back on what his duty was, to serve the public, not his buddies in government.’
        • ‘Here is a gentleman who wants to turn his back on his previous lifestyle and looks to the future with some hope.’
        • ‘His father turned his back on all requests for help.’
        • ‘People share a real sense of purpose there and it's not an easy thing to turn your back on.’
        • ‘He then turned his back on what he had always known and walked into a new life.’
        • ‘He's American, but this Americanism is something he is turning his back on.’
        • ‘‘I have spent 20-odd years of my working life with the BBC and I don't turn my back on that lightly,’ the 69-year-old said.’
        abandon, give up, have done with, throw up
        View synonyms
  • with one's back to (or up against) the wall

    • In a desperate situation; hard-pressed.

      • ‘But with his back to the wall, Milkins produced his best snooker.’
      • ‘‘He's got superb movement and first touch and when you play with your back to the wall you need that,’ said Hoddle.’
      • ‘In fact the most terrifying scenario I could imagine is if the tyrant found himself with his back to the wall.’
      • ‘He has shown that he is a man who fights best with his back to the wall.’
      • ‘But that he is on the defensive should send out a word of warning to all who cross his path: Hewitt with his back to the wall is a very dangerous creature indeed.’
      • ‘He has often had to work with his back to the wall to find a consensus among his party colleagues.’
      • ‘He is always at his best with his back to the wall.’
      • ‘Facing defeat and with his back to the wall, he played dirty.’
      • ‘Yet he continues to manage Dell with the urgency and determination of a college kid with his back to the wall.’
  • back and fill

    • 1Trim the sails of a vessel so that the wind alternately fills and spills out of them, in order to maneuver in a limited space.

      • ‘Sure, they make compromises and back and fill with the wind.’
      1. 1.1Zigzag or vacillate.
        • ‘Even as she wants to advance boldly, therefore, she is required by the evidence to back and fill, leaving the reader with a bewildering combination of affirmation and qualification.’
  • someone's back is turned

    • Someone's attention is elsewhere.

      ‘he kissed her quickly, when the landlady's back was turned’
      • ‘Mothers are, of course, notorious for clearing your most favourite possessions out of your bedroom the moment your back is turned.’
      • ‘As soon as Eddie 's back is turned he'll be the first one to plot his downfall.’
      • ‘I have no respect for cowards who strike when the enemy 's back is turned.’
      • ‘I told her not to say a word, and while my back is turned she rushes off to tell him.’
      • ‘When the resident 's back is turned, she steals a purse and runs off.’
      • ‘Then soon as your back is turned he goes and does it.’
      • ‘At least everyone knows who I despise - you're the one acting as if you adore Anna and then you start gossiping about her the moment her back is turned.’
      • ‘But she also reserves a place in the bedroom altar for a small portrait of the Dalai Lama, a picture that, when our back is turned, is quietly put away.’
      • ‘I'm not so sure what they say when my back is turned.’
      • ‘She likens instant messaging, for example, to notes passed at the back of the classroom when the teacher 's back is turned: there is no premium on proper spelling.’
      • ‘They would be my friends when I'm with them, but my enemies when my back is turned.’
      • ‘There is no honour in defeating a foe when his back is turned.’
      • ‘‘Yeah, just like what a great girlfriend you are that you're off snuggling up to one of his friends while his back is turned,’ I snarled back.’
      • ‘Though I might help keep you alive here, there is no telling what the men will do to you when my back is turned.’
      • ‘The lone superpower can bribe, bully, or impose its will almost anywhere in the world, but when its back is turned, its potency wanes.’
      • ‘But they are unfailingly polite, listen for as long as is decently necessary and do not immediately hurl my pledge-card into the nearest bin - at least not until my back is turned.’
      • ‘Of course you will have to trust the country not to attack you as soon as your back is turned.’
      • ‘Dogs slip free of their leases whenever your back is turned.’
      • ‘I'm not the type of person to attack while someone's back is turned.’
      • ‘I don't want to be spoken of less than fondly whenever my back is turned; deep down, I know you care too, even if it's just a little.’
  • the back of (the) beyond

    • A remote or inaccessible place.

      • ‘It took some courage, six years ago, for Steve Reynolds to take on a tiny village pub in the back of beyond and, defying all odds, become a Herefordshire hero.’
      • ‘These trees would live in myriad habitats from soggy coasts to the driest deserts, deep valleys to the shoulders of alpine peaks, backyards to the back of beyond.’
      • ‘Kubu Island sits on the southernmost tip of the Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana: if you've ever wanted to know what lies behind the back of beyond, this is probably it…’
      • ‘Many of her explorations took place in the Waikawau and Nukuhakari districts - places in the back of beyond where secrets were waiting to be discovered.’
      • ‘I've stopped daydreaming of moving to a rural barn in the back of beyond, with roses round the door and a goat at the end of the garden.’
      • ‘My wife has been pretty good about my fishing expeditions into the back of beyond, but when I told her that I fancied a trip up the Zaire river in search of Goliath tigerfish, she finally put her foot down.’
      • ‘However, Justin wished he was in the back of beyond again with his old team.’
      • ‘If you live in a little village in the back of beyond, people still hiss at you in the street if you display signs of being remotely unusual.’
      • ‘But I thought I had come to the back of beyond as the train took us across this great country.’
      • ‘‘It did seem very ironic that my life was saved in the back of beyond, but when I returned to Scotland, nothing could be done to help me,’ says Robb, now 44.’
      • ‘He sent in four legions to the strange, soaking wet, mist-shrouded island at the back of beyond.’
      • ‘The third, a stone house, is worth £60,000 [it is in the back of beyond, hence the low asking price].’
      • ‘Meanwhile, this makes me smile far too much and brings back memories of riding bikes around the back of beyond in Hoi An.’
      • ‘It's in the back of beyond in Bahia's ranch country, accessible only by boat or plane.’
      • ‘I don't know where it is, but the name he gave me - ‘La Providence ‘, sounds like some village way out in the back of beyond.’’
      • ‘That's what got him sent beyond the back of beyond to pull a completely devastated land into flourishing prosperity in less than a decade.’
      • ‘If you live in the back of beyond in rural Bihar you can be safely assumed to be well out of reach of the media marketeers as we know them, right?’
      • ‘Two babies died young, and when her fifth was due she went to ‘civilisation’ in Menindee - still the back of beyond.’
      • ‘But we can tell that the town the lads left on their way to fight the Scots was a flourishing little place and not just some hole in the back of beyond.’
      • ‘Maybe if we moved to the back of beyond we'd stand a better chance’.’
      the middle of nowhere, the backwoods, the wilds, the hinterland, a backwater
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • back down

    • Withdraw a claim or assertion in the face of opposition.

      ‘the contenders backed down from their original pledge’
      • ‘He is not from a family that backs down, even if it means risking one's life.’
      • ‘You don't win a record eight Olympic medals by backing down.’
      • ‘Nor will we be intimidated into backing down from something we believe in very strongly.’
      • ‘Whether her views were right or wrong are immaterial to this post, and I do admire her for not backing down over what she said when there was probably a lot of pressure being put on her to do so.’
      • ‘We would hope that the revolt in his party will make the Minister see sense, but personally I can't see him backing down.’
      • ‘In return, he argues, he has backed down in response to the strong feelings in the party and the public generally.’
      • ‘Friends say she has no intention of backing down, however.’
      • ‘However, neither the French nor Austrian governments showed any sign of backing down from their proposals.’
      • ‘Burton, he added affectionately, ‘never backs down, whether the fight is within his own party or outside it.’’
      • ‘She makes her opinion known, never backs down and never lets up.’
      • ‘The president also said he has no intention of backing down from his plan.’
      • ‘Unless the management backs down, industrial action is inevitable.’
      • ‘If she backs down from the fight with Washington, that might reassure business interests but disillusion his core supporters.’
      • ‘Usually it's the weaker party that needs to save face when backing down from some untenable position.’
      • ‘While both countries are expressing a desire for peace, neither side is showing signs of backing down.’
      • ‘On the same day, management backed down, agreeing to withdraw the legal action.’
      • ‘Last night there was no sign of the 17-member Police Authority or its Chief Constable backing down from its stand.’
      • ‘The Democrats refused to concede on the privatization scheme and the president backed down.’
      • ‘The company backed down and withdrew the T-shirt uniform after a public outcry.’
      • ‘They can claim that Sonia backed down in the face of their threats.’
      give in, concede defeat, surrender, yield, submit, climb down, concede, reconsider
      View synonyms
  • back off

    • 1Draw back from action or confrontation.

      ‘they backed off from fundamental reform of the system’
      • ‘Despite widespread international condemnation, the government shows no signs of backing off.’
      • ‘He was strong and dependable and never backed off from a fight.’
      • ‘He never backs off and has good credentials.’
      • ‘Unwilling to jeopardize her marriage, Anna backed off from competing for a couple of years.’
      • ‘The newspapers have even backed off from reporting the stories, as they once were doing.’
      • ‘It looks like the leadership is slowly backing off from a confrontation.’
      • ‘It is clear that some unions have backed off from any major confrontations.’
      • ‘I'm curious now, with war so close, are his critics backing off a little bit?’
      • ‘She backs off until Sam does something that convinces her he still needs her.’
      • ‘If everyone just backs off a little, shows some patience, and endeavors to listen and learn from others, maybe some purpose greater than self-congratulation will ensue.’
      • ‘The brothers never backed off from a challenge.’
      • ‘‘We had to take a few more risks there today in the foggy conditions, and maybe the others were backing off. ‘he said.’’
      • ‘The leader of the union has consistently backed off from any confrontation with the government.’
      • ‘If he backs off now, the limited respect he has gained already could contract to a negative footnote.’
      • ‘Employers are backing off from commitments to health and retirement benefits.’
      • ‘UP to 20,000 jobs are in danger of being lost in the construction sector in the months ahead if the Government backs off on the plan, an industry source warned last night.’
      • ‘There are people who think we maybe we are doing way too much and we should be backing off.’
      • ‘But, quite rightly, the union refused to back off until the company withdrew its plan in its entirety.’
      • ‘The average male is intimidated by my intelligence and strength of personality, and backs off, but I'm not interested in the average male, after all.’
      • ‘People don't do that and instead they start getting lawyers and backing off and saying I won't talk to the cops.’
      draw back, step back, move away, back off, retreat, withdraw, pull back, give ground
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1North American Withdraw a claim or assertion in the face of opposition.
        ‘she has backed off on her earlier threat to shut down operations’
        • ‘The White House spokesman rejected suggestions Wednesday that the president was backing off.’
        • ‘After that, they seemed to be backing off a little bit.’
        • ‘So, are Republican congressional leaders backing off?’
        • ‘I just received word that the union is backing off.’
        • ‘She isn't really backing off; she says that her remarks were ‘off the cuff,’ but hasn't disavowed them.’
        • ‘The key liberal interest groups aren't backing off.’
        retreat, withdraw, pull back, fall back, pull out, disengage, give way, give ground, flee, take flight, turn tail, beat a retreat, beat a hasty retreat
        View synonyms
  • back out

    • Withdraw from a commitment.

      ‘if he backs out of the deal they'll sue him’
      • ‘The company had been a tentative sponsor of the first marathon before backing out.’
      • ‘He then backed out of plans to return to star in an Edmonton production of Romeo and Juliet.’
      • ‘The doctor backed out of his contractual responsibility to provide out of hours care for his patients.’
      • ‘Subsequently, as many as three contractors who took up the project also backed out after doing only a part of the work.’
      • ‘But I wanted to take this up as a challenge; it was such an exciting offer that I just couldn't think of backing out.’
      • ‘No one wants to absorb the cost if someone in a group backs out.’
      • ‘You can accuse him of many things - we'll get to that later - but you can't accuse him of backing out of a challenge.’
      • ‘I wasn't going to let her get away with backing out of the trip.’
      • ‘So I went to the Marine recruiting station with two of my cousins who both backed out.’
      • ‘When one of these countries wants to talk peace, the other backs out.’
      • ‘But I'm still in bed, feeling only a few degrees above death, and feeling bad about backing out.’
      • ‘Originally a trio called Cub, the brave lads backed out on the verge of being signed.’
      • ‘He never backed out of anything or shied away from any opponent, and he was prepared to put his career on the line every time he fought.’
      • ‘A few years ago he was asked to be on a TV show, but backed out at the last minute because he felt weird.’
      • ‘Plans are all very loose at the moment and I think my co-organisers might be backing out, but I don't mind.’
      • ‘Well, many legal experts speculated that when the civil suit was filed, that that might be a sign that she was backing out.’
      • ‘No doubt my constant backing out of doing stuff has earned me a reputation among my friends for being an unreliable flake.’
      • ‘I've made a public announcement about it now and there's no backing out.’
      • ‘She backed out of that role in order to instead play Anne Frank on Broadway.’
      • ‘The excitement would die down soon enough, and the school would retreat back out of the public eye.’
      renege on, go back on, withdraw from, pull out of, retreat from, fail to honour, abandon, default on, repudiate
      View synonyms
  • back up

    • 1(of vehicles) form a line due to congestion.

      ‘the traffic began to back up’
      • ‘Cars were parked across the road, and traffic was already beginning to back up.’
      • ‘It was dusk when he began directing traffic, which was backing up at a nearby intersection.’
      • ‘Traffic was backing up as far as the motorways as roads in and around the city centre were closed by police.’
      • ‘He said traffic was continually backing up around Wood Street and Curzon Street.’
      • ‘Cars and other vehicles queued for hours to reach the fair, backing up through Stow Square and up to the Fosseway.’
      • ‘On the odd occasion during peak times traffic backs up but it seems to be OK most of the time.’
      • ‘Traffic on High Street wishing to turn left or right on to Church Street backs up due to the volume of vehicles at busy times.’
      • ‘Cars stop in the middle of the road to view wildlife, backing up traffic for miles.’
      • ‘Naturally, being an interstate highway and the only decent road in the state, there are lots of people to inspect, and the traffic backs up for several miles.’
      • ‘It is hoped this will combat problems resulting from the queue of taxis backing up into Kings Road.’
      • ‘As traffic backed up around the barricades, dozens of onlookers stared inside.’
      • ‘Traffic typically backs up in both the morning and evening rush hours, but drivers are reporting that the new road markings have made the delays much longer than normal.’
      • ‘Contractors are due to start work on January 13 to put in place a series of initiatives that they hope will help to ease congestion at locations where traffic constantly backs up.’
      • ‘The result at peak times is that the traffic stops, backs up on to Queen Street bridge and into Blossom Street.’
      • ‘And when that traffic backs up, the result is employee downtime and increasing frustration.’
      • ‘Diversions were set up along the A4 as traffic backed up to the Cross Keys Inn.’
      • ‘Traffic backed up on to Bradshawgate, Bolton, while he was treated at the scene.’
      • ‘Too many stoplights are a nuisance, backing up traffic, making people late, annoying everyone.’
      • ‘You see, you take away half of the road and the traffic backs up.’
      • ‘This can become so congested that at peak times that traffic can back up as far as the motorway.’
    • 2(of running water) accumulate behind an obstruction.

      • ‘Often the water backs up because the drains are clogged.’
      • ‘When the sewers become overwhelmed with rainwater the overflows work to ensure water is prevented from backing up in the system.’
      • ‘The water began to back up and I had to seize a jug and begin bailing it out into the bath.’
      • ‘It's caused by the onset of the dry season, when the water backed up in the Tonie Sap lake begins to drain into the Mekong.’
      • ‘When the foul water sewer is overcharged, the foul water backs up and can force open the manhole cover in Mr. Marcic's front garden, thereby escaping into the garden.’
      • ‘As more and more water backed up, a temporary lake formed and grew larger and larger.’
      • ‘There is a limit to the amount of water the River Thames can take, without it backing up and flooding new areas.’
      • ‘In earlier testimony, I likened this process to water backing up against a dam that is finally breached.’
  • back something up

    • 1Make a spare copy of data or a disk.

      • ‘I downloaded everything onto my computer here, then backed it up on disks.’
      • ‘While a BestCrypt container is unmounted, it can be backed up, copied and otherwise treated like any other file.’
      • ‘Now storage servers or workstations can be backed up on one single tape cartridge housed in the server itself.’
      • ‘All replacement changes are backed up and an HTML report is generated in the end of the routine.’
      • ‘The diskettes are recycled after a long, long interval in the cupboard, long after the hard disk files have been backed up.’
      • ‘Users can download the tracks to one computer and back them up on two other PCs.’
      • ‘If identical copies of a 20 MB PowerPoint presentation exist on 10 different computers, only one copy of the presentation will be backed up.’
      • ‘It will create image files to a second hard drive, and then you can use your favorite CD or DVD burning software to back your images up.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you can configure the software to back the data up into one big file, with data compression enabled.’
      • ‘By all means, back it up to a floppy or CD-ROM, but keep your backup in a safe place.’
      • ‘In fact saving your work often (and backing it up to floppy disk, zip disk or writable CD) is a good idea if you have anything important on your PC.’
      • ‘Short of exporting the entire database, and then backing that up, the ideal is to shut down each database, back it up, and then fire it up again, in sequence.’
      • ‘Knowing the number and size of files and size is important if you need to make copies of data files and back them up to a floppy disk.’
      • ‘Storing this content as if it's a simple computer file, and thus simply backing it up to disk, is not the optimal approach.’
      • ‘A cold backup is when an application is taken off line, which means there's no user access to the data, and the data is backed up.’
      • ‘Users who want a more hands-on approach, can choose which files and folders are backed up, provide the software with scheduling information, and indicate how many generations of each item are to be kept.’
      • ‘Whether the system is backed up to disk or tape is not really an issue; however, there is a cost and management issue regarding backing up data.’
      • ‘As a result, all data is backed up completely and without risk of corruption, even if the files are open and in use during the backup.’
      • ‘Once the data is backed up to disk, business operations can proceed at a normal pace and important data protection operations can take place.’
      • ‘It was like spending hours on end typing a thesis on a laptop, forgetting to back it up on disk then dropping the thing two thirds of the way through and shattering the hard drive.’
      1. 1.1Cause vehicles to form into a queue due to congestion.
        ‘the traffic was backed up a couple of miles in each direction’
        • ‘I cycle down Bootham and the traffic can be backed up but I know exactly how long the journey is going to take me.’
        • ‘Traffic was backed up all along Cutlery Road for half an hour as the convoy refused to move.’
        • ‘There was no point setting off right away - all the cars were backed up as they queued to get out, so I sat for an hour reading The Guardian with the heater on full fan to dry my jeans.’
        • ‘On the wrong day traffic can be backed up almost its entire dreary length giving the road its present bad reputation.’
        • ‘But motorists have complained that rush-hour traffic has been backed up on Tadcaster Road as drivers get to grips with the new lights.’
        • ‘A few blocks away the traffic was backed up… they had closed off a bunch of roads to ‘non famous vehicles and their drivers.’’
        • ‘It is nothing unusual to find traffic backed up for a few miles south of the town.’
        • ‘Such was the crowd that traffic was backed up for the best part of 30 minutes on all roads in and out of the town.’
        • ‘Police were called to the scene with traffic backed up in both directions.’
        • ‘And another New Road shopkeeper added: ‘By 4.30 pm all the traffic is backed up right along the road.’’
        • ‘Outside Atlanta, traffic into the city was backed up for more than 20 miles on Interstate 20 after two tractor-trailers spun out of control.’
        • ‘On several mornings, vehicles were backed up from the Park Hotel Roundabout to the Burgery at around 9 am, but conditions had improved by the end of the week.’
        • ‘Race day arrived and the traffic is backed up all the way around the race track.’
        • ‘The traffic's all backed up and there are people shouting and fighting everywhere.’
        • ‘Sometimes the traffic is backed up so much you can't get on to the A19, other times the cars are going so fast it is a total deathtrap.’
        • ‘Traffic has been backed up around the area during rush hour ever since the work started.’
        • ‘Not infrequently, vehicles are backed up beyond Arthur Road in Durnsford, Leopold in Gap, and Blackshaw in Plough.’
        • ‘The light ahead was green, but the traffic was backed up through the light.’
        • ‘It's 5: 00 p.m., the thruway is backed up for miles, and you're trying to race your sick child to the pediatrician.’
        • ‘Traffic heading east out of Manchester on the M60 was backed up as far as Eccles.’

Origin

Old English bæc, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch and Old Norse bak. The adverb use dates from late Middle English and is a shortening of aback.

Pronunciation

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/bak//bæk/