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

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 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

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

Synonyms: Adverb

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

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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 Nor is Congress likely to turn its back on a program that gives scientists the skills to turn their research into a company. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "How Congress could reverse cuts in Trump’s budget request for NSF," 13 Feb. 2020 The suspect took the purse and walked away while the victim had her back to the purse. cleveland, "Motorist with warrants calls police when locked out of car: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 13 Feb. 2020 With your feet hip-width apart and a soft bend in your knees, hinge forward at your hips, keeping your back flat. Christa Sgobba, SELF, "How to Do a Single-Leg Deadlift Without Falling on Your Face," 11 Feb. 2020 The council had no idea Suhm was making promises behind its back. Robert Wilonsky, Dallas News, "Dallas on the hook for at least $23 million after jury sides with gas-drillers who never got city’s OK to frack," 7 Feb. 2020 Its four limbs swung underneath its body and not at its sides, while its osteoderms ran in two protective rows down its back. National Geographic, "Rare fossil of bone-crushing crocodile cousin found in Brazil," 5 Feb. 2020 An anxious or fearful cat may crouch down to the ground, arch its back, lower its head, and flatten its ears. Popular Science, "We’re surprisingly bad at reading cats’ facial expressions," 3 Feb. 2020 Perez said her dog firmly placed himself between her and the male, whom Perez identified as Harris, continued to bark and growl, and would not give the man his back. Elizabeth Zavala, ExpressNews.com, "Officers: Sketch, video, basketball team photo helped identify person of interest in Medical Center rapes," 24 Jan. 2020 As the defending conference champions, the University of Houston has a target on its back. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, "UH overcomes mistakes to pull off win over UConn," 23 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Helmeted riot police lined the route and started seizing demonstrators from a scattered crowd on Pushkin Square and pushing them back from another square further along the route. Washington Post, "The Latest: Arrests at unsanctioned Moscow protest up to 600," 4 Aug. 2019 After a lengthy hiatus, the former teen heroes are back on the cartoon screen working day jobs, dating, living together and mourning their dead. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Superheroes behaving badly: 12 crusading TV series target mature audiences," 4 Aug. 2019 After Boyd allowed runs in each of the third and fourth innings, Harold Castro put the Tigers (32-74) back on top with a two-run single up the middle in the fifth. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers drop fly ball, later lose to Rangers on walk-off HR in 10th," 4 Aug. 2019 The earlier date for the poem helps push back the timeline for Medieval erotic poetry and suggests openness about sexuality appeared in the German speaking world earlier than previously thought. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Fragment of ‘The Rose Thorn,’ a Poem About a Talking Vulva, Dated to the 1300s," 3 Aug. 2019 At the park dedication Saturday, Cummings pushed back on Trump's criticism. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "'Don't just come and criticize': Elijah Cummings defends Baltimore in face of Trump's insults," 3 Aug. 2019 The rapper landed back on U.S. soil Saturday, leaving behind him the looming verdict in an episode that has led to unexpected tension between the U.S. and its European ally. Linda Givetash, NBC News, "U.S. warned Sweden of 'negative consequences' if ASAP Rocky wasn't released," 3 Aug. 2019 As the player now actively pushes for an exit from the French champions, here's a look back at six defining moments of the Brazilian's spell at PSG. SI.com, "Neymar: 6 Defining Moments of the Brazilian's Two Years at Paris Saint-Germain," 3 Aug. 2019 This should come as a thrill to those who wait all year for the seasonal latte to land back on Starbucks menus, which typically occurs near the end of August. Hannah Chubb, PEOPLE.com, "Starbucks Launches Pumpkin Spice Latte Coffee Creamer and You Can Get It Now," 2 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Van der Werff was a central figure of FC Cincinnati's back line in the second half of the 2019 season and figures to help anchor the defense again in 2020. Pat Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "Sources: FC Cincinnati looking to close deal for Siem de Jong from Ajax," 17 Feb. 2020 Verdugo has a back issue and is questionable for Opening Day, and Pillar could open in right. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Did Giants make the right call on Kevin Pillar?," 16 Feb. 2020 The two birds were brought to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue in Highbridge, Somerset, after they were trapped in the back part of a house in Athelney, news agency SWNS reports. Fox News, "Photographer captures incredible image of two swans bowing their heads together to form a heart," 15 Feb. 2020 The distance to the back fence is maybe 40 or 50 feet. David Hinojosa, ExpressNews.com, "Warren’s Annika Litterio comes into her own, naturally," 15 Feb. 2020 Swing the back uprights open and fasten the rear hinge leaf to the rear upright. Richard Romanski, Popular Mechanics, "It's Time To Make a Stand-Up Desk," 15 Feb. 2020 The banjo has long been associated with folk and country music, an instrument whose twangy sound suggests a life of back-porch pleasures and homespun tradition. Charles Passy, WSJ, "Banjo Player Brings Folksy Flavor to Met Opera’s ‘Porgy and Bess’," 13 Feb. 2020 The former Rookie of the Year reeled off a streak of four straight assists including finding Jeremy Lamb and TJ Warren for back-to-back 3 pointers, respectively. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Malcolm Brogdon embraces role as Pacers calming presence in the clutch," 13 Feb. 2020 My migraines and back pain, which had been manageable, exploded into volatile neurological symptoms. Jessica Slice, Glamour, "What Are You Doing Right Now? I’m in Chronic Pain," 12 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Embedding these in a 50-µm-thick film of transparent polymethylpentene—a plastic used in some lab equipment and cookware—and backing this with reflective silver was sufficient to create a super-cool material. Scientific American, "The Supercool Materials That Send Heat to Space," 17 Feb. 2020 Oliva has raised more than $400,000 and has backing from an independent committee funded by the California Association of Realtors, which has spent more than $475,000 on her behalf. Alexei Koseff, SFChronicle.com, "Money pours into crowded race for Bay Area Senate seat," 17 Feb. 2020 The redemption center sells the can back to the original distributor, getting that tax back and an additional handling fee. Page Ellerson, CNN, "How one woman in New York City makes ends meet by collecting cans," 17 Feb. 2020 The Brewers will ease into action Tuesday, then back their days up by two hours with live batting practice scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the Cactus League opener taking place Saturday. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Camp report: After Ryan Braun and Eric Sogard report, all hands are on deck for the Brewers," 17 Feb. 2020 Guaidó has won backing from the U.S. and dozens of nations that considered Maduro's 2018 election a fraud and blamed his socialist policies for the crisis that's driving mass migration and threatening the region's stability. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Venezuela’s Maduro warns opposition leader’s arrest ‘will come’," 15 Feb. 2020 But City’s holding company - the state-backed Abu Dhabi United Group - channeled 59.9 million pounds back to Etihad, according to Jorge Chumillas, the club’s chief financial officer, in an internal email to club director Simon Pearce. cleveland, "Manchester City banned from UEFA Champions League for two seasons for ‘breaches’ of spending rules," 14 Feb. 2020 In recent years, hackers have taken to locking down entire computer networks and demanding payments to let users back into their systems. New York Times, "Ransomware Attacks Grow, Crippling Cities and Businesses," 9 Feb. 2020 The new president replaced his predecessor’s incontinent spending with a programme of austerity, backed with a $4.2bn loan from the IMF. The Economist, "Rafael Correa in court Ecuador’s trial of the century opens," 6 Feb. 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

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

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

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Back.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/back. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for back

back

noun
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

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

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.

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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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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about back

Comments on back

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