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

Verb

backer \ ˈba-​kər How to pronounce Back (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 Gotta love a rivalry that will give you the shirt off its back. Jeff Bartlett, The Indianapolis Star, 21 July 2021 With 37 points and 10 boards, with 12 of 13 free throws in the first three quarters, Antetokounmpo threw the Bucks on his back and marched to the rim. Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 July 2021 Fights are over within minutes, sometimes seconds, typically when one opponent flips the other on their back. Cnaan Liphshiz, sun-sentinel.com, 20 July 2021 His hands are behind his back in the photo, not in his pockets. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 July 2021 All-Stars, being in a showmance has been surefire way to paint a target on your back for early expulsion from the tribe. Dalton Ross, EW.com, 20 July 2021 Kennedy called out for two people nearby to help lay the victim down on his back, and that's when Kennedy began taping the chip bag onto the victim's chest to cover the wound and slow the bleeding until an ambulance arrived. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, 19 July 2021 Riffing on the Cosmic Turtle, which carries the world on its back, the Atropos map is a beautifully imaginative build. Simon Hill, Wired, 19 July 2021 After suffering a bone lesion from taking a puck off the left knee two years ago, Lucius underwent surgery last summer to clear out the dead bone and replace it with bone marrow from his back. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, 19 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Paul has plenty left to lead the Suns back to this same spot next year. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 22 July 2021 The Ozaukee County Fair is bringing musical performances, grandstand events and daily activities back to Cedarburg at Fireman's Park, W66 N796 Washington Ave., from July 28-Aug. 1. Eddie Morales, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 July 2021 Boone stayed at tackle in 2020 and is moving back to guard this year, expected to play aside right tackle Renato Brown. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, 22 July 2021 They're not sold on the new logo and calling for the school to bring back the black ghost bronco logo. Mia Berry, Detroit Free Press, 22 July 2021 The concept has become short-hand for a number of ideas that conservatives are pushing back against, from culturally-relevant teaching practices to the way that the country’s history of slavery is taught. Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star, 22 July 2021 Former Cincinnati Reds announcer Thom Brennaman will be back behind the microphone soon in Greater Cincinnati. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, 21 July 2021 Tuesday’s game epitomized the 2021 season, which has had some of the lowest of lows followed by the highest of highs and then back again. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, 21 July 2021 The coming boom in the lithium market, however, has three companies back at it. Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The operation is emphatically hands-off: no tinkering with acid or tannin levels via extracts or other additives on the back end. Julia Bainbridge, WSJ, 8 July 2021 Right-handed reliever Kyle Funkhouser bridged the gap from Mize to the back end of the bullpen with scoreless fifth and sixth innings. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 8 July 2021 Fortunately, advances in AI, ML and database architectures are enabling a convergence of real-time and back-end systems. John Dillon, Forbes, 7 July 2021 What’s to like: Hawaii has prolific playmakers in the back end of its defense. oregonlive, 7 July 2021 Hopefully, that translates to more innings and more success at the back end, which this year might be more needed. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 July 2021 The top 20 finishers from Saturday’s race will be inverted for Sunday’s starting grid, which will put Bowman in 20th place for the back end of the doubleheader. Ellen J. Horrow, USA TODAY, 26 June 2021 Now much of that back-end effort will be made unnecessary. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 23 June 2021 Dill, salt and dehydrated vinegar do most of the heavy lifting flavorwise, with a back-end note of garlic and parsley. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, 22 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Several years back your humble correspondent observed a diverse crowd standing in a long line on a hot summer day. James Freeman, WSJ, 2 July 2021 But Cadillac Williams is actively looking for more people to back Bigsby up, especially since Shivers is a senior. Giana Han, al, 29 June 2021 Some members of the coalition have endorsed reparations in the past, including Garcetti and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, and Asheville’s City Council promised to back special homeownership and business programs for Black residents last year. Joe Walsh, Forbes, 19 June 2021 Manchin repeated his pledge to back the 60-vote rule in January, after Democrats won control of the Senate, and then again in a Washington Post op-ed in April. John Mccormack, National Review, 16 June 2021 These scientists have put out an ambitious new theory, and subsequent work will either back them up or respectfully disagree, citing different analysis and observation. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 16 June 2021 Support for the death penalty is declining in California, but, Phil Willon reported, that doesn’t necessarily mean that voters would back a plan to abolish it, according to a new UC Berkeley/LA Times poll. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 21 May 2021 Moscow also continues to back a pro-Russian insurgency in a war in Ukraine’s east that has killed more than 13,000 people, according to the United Nations. New York Times, 5 May 2021 Playing with both wrists wrapped would appear to back Savino’s assertion, with the sprain on the left side the result of an April 21 collision at first base while trying to beat out a ground ball. Steve Reaven, chicagotribune.com, 1 May 2021

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

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Back.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/back. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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 held back tears.
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 walked back and forth

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 : published at an earlier time

back

verb
backed; backing

Kids Definition of back (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : to give support or help to Which candidate are you backing?
2 : to move backward
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
back up
1 : to move backward
2 : to block or become blocked
3 : to give help or support to
4 : to make a copy of (as a computer file) to protect from being lost

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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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