back

noun
\ 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

back

adverb

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

back

adjective

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

back

verb
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 up back up a friend in a fight
b : substantiate often used with up needs 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 up a 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 up back 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

Back

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

Noun

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

Verb

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for back

Synonyms: Noun

rear, reverse, tail

Synonyms: Adverb

ago, agone [archaic], since, syne [chiefly Scottish]

Synonyms: Adjective

aft, after, hind, hinder, hindmost, posterior, rear, rearward

Synonyms: Verb

advocate, champion, endorse (also indorse), patronize, plump (for), plunk (for) or plonk (for) , support

Antonyms: Noun

face, forehead, forepart, front

Antonyms: Adverb

hence

Antonyms: Adjective

anterior, fore, forward, front, frontal

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Choose the Right Synonym for back

Verb

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

Today, wireless charging has seen phones switch from metal unibodies to glass backs, which allows the RF signals to get in and out of the back of the device. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Don’t buy a 5G smartphone—at least, not for a while," 14 Dec. 2018 Then, like the Cliff Notes, at the back give me the key takeaways. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why tech companies need to reinvent themselves every three to four years," 10 Oct. 2018 Ground-shaking roars for Tiger Woods along the back nine. Doug Ferguson, The Seattle Times, "Molinari builds 2-shot lead over Woods, Finau in Masters," 14 Apr. 2019 Hamrick will be choreographing the ballet, while Jagger is curating the music from his extensive back-catalogue of tracks. Charlotte Chilton, Town & Country, "Mick Jagger Reveals What it's Like to Collaborate With His Girlfriend, Melanie Hamrick," 28 Feb. 2019 Large companies like Tencent that have suffered losses likely need to rely on back-up plans. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "China lifts video game ban but not for its biggest player," 29 Dec. 2018 Zucchini Squash Your grandma probably grew this reliable, high-yielding type in her back yard. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "16 Types of Squash and Everything You Need to Know About Them," 28 Dec. 2018 Forty-five minutes of sumo wrestling has caused me five years of back pain, so ... Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Recode Decode," 2 Nov. 2018 An onlooker recorded the incident that showed the man doing a back flip. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent's weapon said he believed it was an 'idiot' with 'a firecracker'," 2 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Even at its most basic brew, a tall Pike Place at Starbucks set me back $2.34 earlier this week. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "These New Starbucks Coffee Capsules Fooled Everyone in a Blind Taste Test," 10 May 2019 Loading a dart, winching back the bows, and taking aim means a lousy rate of fire. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "The Real History of the Ballista, Game of Thrones' Anti-Dragon Weapon," 6 May 2019 What’s more, The Wauwinet collaborated with Serena & Lily to redesign the three-bedroom Anchorage house, across the street from the main inn, to be unveiled this summer on June 1 (check back for more details!). Samantha Swenson, ELLE Decor, "The Iconic Wauwinet Hotel on Nantucket is Once Again the Ultimate Summer Getaway," 2 May 2019 The group another shot back included Dustin Johnson, who only made birdies on the par 5s and bogeyed his last hole for a 70. Doug Ferguson, The Seattle Times, "Molinari builds 2-shot lead over Woods, Finau in Masters," 14 Apr. 2019 Bookmark this page to see lists from previous months and check back here on May 1 for the next list. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "These April Bucket List Ideas Will Put a Spring in Your Step," 9 Apr. 2019 Just a stones throw away from Pigeon Point beach, enjoy drinks, live music, and freshly caught fish—all while taking in Catherine's laid back and tropical atmosphere. Charlotte Chilton, Town & Country, "Coco Shop's Debut Collection Is the Only Thing You'll Need for Your Next Vacation," 9 Apr. 2019 The Calabasas home overlooks the Malibu Canyons and is currently back on the market for $4.1 million. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "John Stamos’s Former Calabasas Mansion is Now On The Market For $4.1 Million," 9 Apr. 2019 Luckily, the serum is back in stock on sephora.com. Marci Robin, Allure, "Volition’s New Strawberry-C Serum Sold Out at Sephora Just 10 Days After It Launched," 30 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Don't judge a course by its front nine: Two holes on the back half steal the show at Auburn Golf Course — for a good value, too. Scott Hanson, The Seattle Times, "Teeing Off: Auburn Golf Course delivers good value, and a fun back nine," 6 Aug. 2018 Orioles utility man Jace Peterson left the 10-2 loss to the New York Yankees in the back half of Monday’s doubleheader after banging his knee into the outfield wall trying to track down a double by Neil Walker, manager Buck Showalter said. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' Jace Peterson leaves second game of doubleheader with knee injury, 'day-to-day'," 10 July 2018 The $50 billion projected for the back half of 2018 would exceed that busy period in early 2017. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Report: Oil and gas M&A to surge in late 2018," 10 July 2018 He hadn’t pitched since the previous Saturday because the team didn’t have any leads in the back half of the game, when Counsell likes to use him. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 12, Phillies 3: Ji-Man Choi's pinch grand slam turns game in Brewers' favor," 9 June 2018 Neither is known for their starts, instead running down the field in the back half of the race. Mark Zeigler, sandiegouniontribune.com, "SDSU's Ashley Henderson advances to NCAA track final in 200 but not 100," 7 June 2018 But in keeping with the theme of death and decay, including in beauty, the back half of the hair was comparatively unfinished in a simple, yet sleek, bun. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "Gucci’s Cruise 2019 Show Had a Fascination With Death," 30 May 2018 Prince William and Kate Middleton had a long row of laurel trees planted along the back side of the property recently. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince William and Kate Middleton Plant a 950-Foot Hedge at Kensington Palace to Protect Their Privacy," 7 Apr. 2019 And on the back side of the canvas, several species of Bacillus bacteria had set up housekeeping, apparently feeding on paste and glue. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "What’s eating this 400-year-old painting? A whole ecosystem of microbes," 11 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Update, 4/25/2019: Steel yourselves, The Office fans, because rumors that the beloved show will soon be gone from Netflix are back — but this time, there are more substantial claims to back them up. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "Is 'The Office' Really Leaving Netflix? NBC Might Finally Be Pulling the Show," 25 Apr. 2019 That fanciful spirit would be nothing without a business to back it up. Emily Farra, Vogue, "LoveShackFancy’s New Store Feels Like Stepping Into a Lush, Flower-Filled Storybook," 17 Apr. 2019 While there are no records to back it up, its possible that the scientists managed to re-create what happened naturally millions of years ago. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Ancient Giant Isopods Love Eating Alligators, New Study Finds," 12 Apr. 2019 In fact, Jain was backing McFarland long before Fyre was even a concept. Rose Minutaglio, Town & Country, "How Carola Jain, a Well-Connected New York Investor, Got Duped Into Funding the Fyre Festival," 26 Jan. 2019 The Institute likes the Miele Complete C3 Vacuum, which is also backed by our GH Seal. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Your Laminate Floors (Without Ruining Them)," 28 Mar. 2019 The drive’s retractable plug means there’s no cap to lose, and both the 64GB and 128GB drives are backed by SanDisk’s generous lifetime warranty. Don Melanson, Popular Mechanics, "Best USB Flash Drives for Storage on the Go," 26 Mar. 2019 While the three presidents weren’t exactly enthusiastic transit supporters, political forces aligned in ways that gave them more reason to back buses and rail. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Public transit’s missed opportunity," 20 Nov. 2018 NCC Media, an organization backed by cable giants like Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast, also is working on capabilities to use data in advanced TV ad buying. Alexandra Bruell, WSJ, "AT&T Pushes Xandr Ad Products in Viacom Carriage Talks," 25 Mar. 2019

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

Noun

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

Adverb

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

Adjective

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

Verb

1548, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for back

Noun

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

Adverb

Middle English bac, aphetic form of abak aback

Adjective

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

Verb

verbal derivative of back entry 1

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Learn More about back

Dictionary Entries near back

bacillus

Baciroa

bacitracin

back

Back

backache

backache brake

Statistics for back

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for back

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

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More Definitions for back

back

noun

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

back

adverb

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

back

adjective

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

back

verb

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)

back

noun
\ 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

back

adverb

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.

back

adjective

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

back

verb
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

back

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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back

adjective

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with back

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for back

Spanish Central: Translation of back

Nglish: Translation of back for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of back for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about back

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