\ ˈbak How to pronounce back (audio) \
plural backs

Definition of back

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a(1) : the rear part of the human body especially from the neck to the end of the spine
(2) : the body considered as the wearer of clothes They were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
(3) : capacity for labor, effort, or endurance Put your back into it!
(4) : the back considered as the seat of one's awareness of duty or failings get off my back
(5) : the back considered as an area of vulnerability the police officer's partner always watches his back
b : the part of a lower animal (such as a quadruped) corresponding to the human back riding on the back of an elephant
c : spinal column She had surgery on her back.
d : spine sense 1c The title is on the book's back.
2a : the side or surface opposite the front or face I only saw him from the back. : the rear part the back of the head the back of the mirror also : the farther or reverse side wrote the number on the back of an envelope
b : something at or on the back for support back of a chair
c : a place away from the front sat in back
3 : a position in some games (such as football or soccer) behind the front line of players also : a player in this position a defensive back
4 informal : a swimming race in which swimmers use the backstroke She placed first in the 100-meter back.
back of one's hand or back of the hand
: a show of contempt
back of one's mind
: the part of one's mind where thoughts and memories are stored to be drawn on
behind one's back
: without one's knowledge talking about me behind my back
in back of
: behind One day, I was sitting in the tiny parlor in back of the store …— John McNulty



Definition of back (Entry 2 of 5)

1a : to, toward, or at the rear asked the crowd to move back
b : in or into the past : backward in time looking back on her youth an event back in the last century Back then, no one had ever heard of chronic fatigue syndrome. also : ago several years back met him in the street two days back
c : to or at an angle off the vertical leaned back on his chair
d(1) : under restraint He wanted to fight but his friends held him back. holding back a laugh
(2) : in a delayed or retarded condition Bad weather set the launch date back several days.
e : in an inferior or secondary position especially : behind a competitor in points or ranking finished three strokes back
2a : to, toward, or in a place from which a person or thing came She left home and never went back. put the book back
b : to or toward a former state went back to private life
c : in return or reply forgot to write back

Definition of back (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : being at or in the back back door
b : distant from a central or main area back roads
c of a speech sound : articulated at or toward the back of the oral passage : formed deep within the mouth back vowels
2 : having returned or been returned
3 : being in arrears : overdue is owed several months in back pay
4 : moving or operating backward : reverse back action with oars
5 : not current back issues of a magazine
6 golf : constituting the final 9 holes of an 18-hole course


backed; backing; backs

Definition of back (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

1a : to support by material or moral assistance backing a candidate for governor often used with upback up a friend in a fight
b : substantiate often used with upneeds to back up her argument with evidence
c : to assume financial responsibility for back a new company
d : to provide musical accompaniment for often used with upa singer backed up by a guitarist
2a : to cause to go back (see back entry 2 sense 1a) or in reverse back the car into the garage
b : to articulate (a speech sound) with the tongue farther back : to form deeper within the mouth
3a : to furnish with a rear part : to furnish with a back (see back entry 1 sense 2) back a skirt with stiff material
b : to be at the rear part of : to be at the back (see back entry 1 sense 2) of a row of garages back the building

intransitive verb

1 : to move backward backed into a parking space often used with upback up to give him some spaceLet's back up a little to clarify what we're saying.
2 of the wind : to shift counterclockwise — compare veer entry 1 sense 2
3 : to have the rear part facing in the direction of something The house backs onto a golf course.
back and fill
1 nautical : to manage the sails of a ship so as to keep it clear of obstructions as it floats down with the current of a river or channel
2 : to take opposite positions alternately : shilly-shally has been back and filling on the issue
back into
: to get into inadvertently backed into the antiques business


geographical name
\ ˈbak How to pronounce Back (audio) \

Definition of Back (Entry 5 of 5)

river 605 miles (974 kilometers) long in Nunavut, Canada, rising along the border with the Northwest Territories and flowing east-northeast into the Arctic Ocean

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Other Words from back


backed \ ˈbakt How to pronounce backed (audio) \ adjective
backless \ ˈbak-​ləs How to pronounce backless (audio) \ adjective


backer \ ˈba-​kər How to pronounce backer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for back

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adverb

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for back


support, uphold, advocate, back, champion mean to favor actively one that meets opposition. support is least explicit about the nature of the assistance given. supports waterfront development uphold implies extended support given to something attacked. upheld the legitimacy of the military action advocate stresses urging or pleading. advocated prison reform back suggests supporting by lending assistance to one failing or falling. refusing to back the call for sanctions champion suggests publicly defending one unjustly attacked or too weak to advocate his or her own cause. championed the rights of children

recede, retreat, retract, back mean to move backward. recede implies a gradual withdrawing from a forward or high fixed point in time or space. the flood waters gradually receded retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached. retreating soldiers retract implies drawing back from an extended position. a cat retracting its claws back is used with up, down, out, or off to refer to any retrograde motion. backed off on the throttle

Examples of back in a Sentence

Noun She was carrying her little daughter on her back. She has a pain in the small of her back. I slapped him on his back to congratulate him. She stabbed him in the back. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. a bird with a spotted back riding on the back of a horse a comfortable chair with a padded back Adverb The soldiers moved back from the front lines. The police asked the crowd to move back from the scene of the accident. He left his friends two miles back. She turned around and looked back toward him. a chapter beginning several pages back He left his home and never went back. It's time to go back home. She took the book off the shelf and forgot to put it back. In the opening chapter the author looks back on his youth. an event back in the last century Adjective He keeps his wallet in his back pocket. We came in through the back entrance. We drove on the back roads instead of the main roads. The company owes him several months in back pay. Verb I'm backing him for President. She backed the winner of the race and won a lot of money. She backed her argument with written evidence. She backed the singer on the guitar. She backed into a parking space. She backed out of the garage. The dog kept growling but backed off cautiously. back a skirt with stiff material
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The back-and-forth drew the attention of The View co-host Meghan McCain, who criticized Fauci for commenting on Tinder relationships during the pandemic but not on limiting protests. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Fauci and Jim Jordan spar over limiting protests due to coronavirus," 31 July 2020 Intelligence agencies and the military should focus AI deployment on back-office and noncritical uses until reliability improves, the report says. Tom Simonite, Wired, "What’s This? A Bipartisan Plan for AI and National Security," 30 July 2020 Showcased in a sassy pose with his back to us, Donald Duck looks his usual grumpy self. Ellen Mcalpine, CNN Underscored, "Keep the Sensational Six in your back pocket with this new collection from Otterbox," 30 July 2020 Here’s how: press the sensor on the back (which looks not unlike a Lidocaine patch), wait for the green light to flash, slip the smart bra over your normal bra, and tap Measure on the SomaInnofit app, which will then give you your true bra size. Patricia Marx, The New Yorker, "Bramancing the Braless: Notes on Nine Lingerie Startups," 30 July 2020 So dizzying was the economic fall last quarter that most analysts expect the economy to produce a sharp bounce-back in the current July-September period, perhaps of as much as 17% or higher on an annual basis. Martin Crutsinger, Anchorage Daily News, "Coronavirus-shocked US economy shrank at record-breaking 33% rate last quarter," 30 July 2020 Sutton cries out after having stayed silent for the entire back-and-forth., "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Go big or go Rome," 30 July 2020 Lamanna said bridges of that era were not designed with the back-ups and redundancies seen in modern bridges. Anne Ryman, The Arizona Republic, "What we know: Tempe Town Lake freight train derailment," 29 July 2020 Once caught, the sunfish can be hooked in the muscular part of the back behind the large dorsal fin that runs along the backbone. Kirk Sides, Houston Chronicle, "Video: Big bass await summer anglers at Bay Area fishing spots," 13 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Josie Natori is back in the office, but most of her staff isn’t. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "When the CEO Is in the Office—and Everyone Else Is Working From Home," 1 Aug. 2020 Khris Davis is back at DH after sitting out the last two games and batting seventh. Matt Kawahara,, "A’s Bob Melvin confident hitting will ‘come around’," 1 Aug. 2020 Sherry Root, the grandmother of an eighth and 11th grader, expects the to see the number of COVID-19 cases increase now that classes are back in session. Lydia Gerike, The Indianapolis Star, "'Feel bad for the kid': What families said after Greenfield Central student tests positive," 1 Aug. 2020 She was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, Nurkic announced after the game, and is in a coma back in Nurkic’s home country of Bosnia. oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers must replicate playoff intensity displayed Friday to meet challenges ahead," 1 Aug. 2020 Ian Book is back and will be surrounded by a talented, and experienced, offensive line. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Can Louisville football make ACC championship with new schedule? We break it down," 31 July 2020 Chidobe Awuzie returns as a two-year starter, and Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown, the two other cornerbacks who played more than 50 defensive snaps for Dallas in 2019 are back, too. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Trevon Diggs ready for Cowboys’ training camp after summer practices with pro," 31 July 2020 The Brown family is back with more Alaskan Bush People — and with the new season comes new challenges. Ally Mauch,, "Alaskan Bush People Family Is Forced to Shelter on Mountain as COVID-19 Hits in New Season," 31 July 2020 For Marc Stein, a New York Times sports reporter, his favorite part of his bubble experience was being back in the gym, hearing the sounds of sneakers squeak, and players cheer from the benches. CNN, "Covering the weirdest basketball season ever from inside the NBA bubble," 31 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Baxter birdied four holes on the back nine to forge a 3-under-par 69. Anchorage Daily News, "Adam Baxter tames Moose Run golf course for first-round lead at Alaska State Amateur," 31 July 2020 DeChambeau surged up the leaderboard with four birdies and an eagle over a eight-hole stretch on the back nine. Creg Stephenson |, al, "PGA Tour Rocket Mortgage Classic (7/3) free second-round live stream: How to watch online, time, TV," 3 July 2020 Schmidt shot 3-under in 17 holes, making three birdies on the back nine to pull ahead. James Weber, The Enquirer, "Defending champion, several locals advance to quarterfinals of Met golf tournament," 25 June 2020 An autopsy found that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him at a fast food restaurant for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. NBC News, "'When does it stop?' Slain man's family makes tearful plea," 16 June 2020 An autopsy found that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back late Friday by an officer trying to arrest him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. Time, "‘When Does It Stop?’ Family of Atlanta Police Killing Victim Rayshard Brooks Makes Tearful Plea for Justice," 15 June 2020 My first bill was in 2015 after the Walter Scott incident where he was shot in the back five times 30 feet from the officer. CBS News, "Transcript: Senator Tim Scott discusses race on "Face the Nation," June 14, 2020," 14 June 2020 In the slaying case, police said Latunski admitted to stabbing Bacon in the back one time then slitting his throat, and cutting off his testicles and eating them. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan man accused of cannibalism sued in new case 'straight out of a horror movie'," 12 June 2020 More weight in the back equals more forward oomph pushing the car down the hill. Andrew Zaleski, Popular Science, "Meet the dads who can’t quit pinewood derby racing—even after their kids are over it," 3 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even though the Cavs still believe in Garland, there’s no evidence yet to back that up. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers adding another guard, Kevin Love’s future and Tristan Thompson’s return: Answering offseason’s biggest questions," 17 June 2020 Strong housing markets in north Alabama, hospitalizations up in Birmingham and the president may visit Alabama to back a U.S. Senate runoff candidate. Bob Sims |, al, "Strong housing markets, hospitalizations up and the president’s visit?," 16 June 2020 But those who back a minimum wage hike say the increases will help workers and economies alike. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Minimum wage hike in 3 states boosts income for battered workers," 1 July 2020 Two-thirds of Hispanics support Biden compared with 32% who back Trump. Emma Kinery,, "Biden Leads Trump in Poll Showing 87% Unhappy at U.S. Direction," 1 July 2020 By March, when the coronavirus began accelerating through the United States, Shawn Hill-Watkins had been working as a cashier at a Food Lion supermarket in High Point, North Carolina, for seven months, taking three buses to work and back each day. Ava Kofman, ProPublica, "How North Carolina Transformed Itself Into the Worst State to Be Unemployed," 30 June 2020 Poll after poll indicates that healthcare is top of mind for many voters deciding who to back at the ballot box. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Democratic jabs at GOP over healthcare may sting more than swings at Trump's character," 25 June 2020 In other words, the TRX will have the looks to back its insane powertrain. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "Hellcat-Powered 2021 Ram TRX Coming This Summer," 25 June 2020 Neither move was particularly popular among Americans, who largely back the protesters. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Bill Barr Forgot How to Be an Attorney General," 23 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'back.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of back


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1548, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for back


Middle English, from Old English bæc; akin to Old High German bah back, Old Norse bak


Middle English bac, aphetic form of abak aback


Middle English, partly attributive use of bac, back back entry 1, partly derivative of back back entry 2


verbal derivative of back entry 1

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Time Traveler for back

Time Traveler

The first known use of back was before the 12th century

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Statistics for back

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Back.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for back


How to pronounce Back (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of back

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: the rear part of the body : the part of the body that is opposite to the stomach and chest and that goes from the neck to the top of the legs
: the part of an animal that is like a person's back
: the side or surface of something that is opposite the front or face : the rear side or surface of something



English Language Learners Definition of back (Entry 2 of 4)

: in, toward, or at the back or rear
: to, toward, or in the place where someone or something was previously
: in or into the past : backward in time

English Language Learners Definition of back (Entry 3 of 4)

: of or relating to the back : located at the back
: far from a central or main area
: not yet paid : owed from an earlier time



English Language Learners Definition of back (Entry 4 of 4)

: to give help to (someone)
: to bet on (someone or something)
: to provide evidence that supports (something)


\ ˈbak How to pronounce back (audio) \

Kids Definition of back

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : the rear part of the human body from the neck to the end of the spine : the upper part of the body of an animal
2 : the part of something that is opposite or away from the front part
3 : a player in a team game who plays behind the forward line of players

Other Words from back

backed \ ˈbakt \ adjective a high-backed chair



Kids Definition of back (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : to, toward, or at the rear The crowd moved back.
2 : in or to a former time, state, or place I started working here some years back. I'll be right back.
3 : under control I kept back my anger.
4 : in return or reply Please write back. Give me back my bike.
back and forth
1 : toward the back and then toward the front
2 : between two places or people They sailed back and forth across the lake.

Kids Definition of back (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : located at the back the back door
2 : far from a central or main area back roads
3 : not yet paid : overdue He owes back rent.
4 : no longer published back issues of a magazine


backed; backing

Kids Definition of back (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : to give support or help to : uphold Which candidate are you backing?
2 : to move back She backed out of the garage.
back down
: to stop arguing or fighting for something You just can't back down and let people say I told you so.— Oliver Butterworth, The Enormous Egg
back off
: to back down
back out
: to decide not to do something after agreeing to do it

Other Words from back

backer noun


\ ˈbak How to pronounce back (audio) \

Medical Definition of back

1a : the rear part of the human body especially from the neck to the end of the spine
b : the corresponding part of a lower animal (as a quadruped)
2 : the part of the upper surface of the tongue behind the front and lying opposite the soft palate when the tongue is at rest

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Legal Definition of back

1 : being overdue or in arrears back rent
2 : being retroactive especially as compensation reinstated with back pay

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More from Merriam-Webster on back

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for back

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with back

Spanish Central: Translation of back

Nglish: Translation of back for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of back for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about back

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