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 After years of back-and-forth decisions, the Italian government in late March greenlighted a ban on large ships sailing through the Venetian Lagoon. Fran Golden, Anchorage Daily News, "Some residents of key tourist destinations rethink their reliance on cruising," 26 Apr. 2021 After a back-and-forth beginning, Mira Costa went on a 12-5 run to take a 19-12 lead in the initial set, eventually earning the final point 25-21 on a kill from senior Ben Coordt. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, "Motivated by the rivalry’s tradition, Loyola High downs Mira Costa in volleyball," 25 Apr. 2021 Carmela Cardama Baez won a terrific back-and-forth battle with Claire O’Brien of Boise State over the last three laps to claim the victory. oregonlive, "Cole Hocker crushes meet record in the 5,000 at Oregon Relays," 23 Apr. 2021 After a back-and-forth night of frenzied attack for both teams, Nani found the net in his signature cheeky style, flicking a ricocheting shot from Chris Mueller into the goal with the back of his heel. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "Nani leads Orlando City in draw with Sporting KC," 23 Apr. 2021 The legal back-and-forth over the three administrations has left federal land agencies, local environmental groups and tribal coalitions unsure of what happens next. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, "From the Gila River to Bears Ears, a renewed push to protect public lands in the Southwest," 22 Apr. 2021 But what unfolded next was a complicated back-and-forth between a local froyo shop and an uber-famous singer. Sarah Midkiff, refinery29.com, "Everything To Know About Demi Lovato’s Surprising Feud With A Fro-Yo Shop," 20 Apr. 2021 Owen Diodati roped a single to right to bring Sam Praytor home to cap a back-and-forth Game 1 with the Tigers. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Alabama baseball walks off Auburn in 10th," 16 Apr. 2021 The back-and-forth between Fauci and Jordan -- who have clashed before -- continued for a few minutes until the subcommittee chair, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, announced that Jordan's time expired. Jacqueline Howard And Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN, "Maxine Waters tells Jim Jordan to 'shut your mouth' after Covid-19 hearing erupts," 15 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Roszko’s third goal tied the game, but Salvatierra put the Cougars back on top, 8-7, with 2:07 left. Randy Mcroberts, baltimoresun.com, "Lydia Cassilly’s OT goal lifts C. Milton Wright girls lacrosse over Fallston, 9-8 | ROUNDUP," 28 Apr. 2021 That would put him back on the field in time for training camp in August. cleveland, "Caleb Farley, on the Browns’ radar at No. 26, tests positive for COVID-19 and won’t attend the NFL Draft in Cleveland," 28 Apr. 2021 While the Senate passed the bill Monday, the measure will have to go back to the Senate because the House made changes. Jim Saunders And Dara Kam, sun-sentinel.com, "Controversial elections changes approved by Florida House," 28 Apr. 2021 Federal prosecutors declined to file civil rights charges against the officers, who were later put back on active duty. Emma Tucker, Ryan Young And Julia Jones, CNN, "With virtual reality police training, Sacramento tries to 'get to a much better place'," 27 Apr. 2021 Wear a mask to the start line, then remove it, then put it back on after competition -- just like other states. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: Governor’s office and state leaders have a blind spot when it comes to sports," 27 Apr. 2021 So how can organizations put purpose back into their business strategy? Sally Percy, Forbes, "How To Put Purpose Back Into Your Business Strategy," 27 Apr. 2021 Funny enough, all of those players share very similar stories that go back to SNK, the company behind KOF and its legendary MVS arcade system, the Neo Geo. De'angelo Epps, Wired, "The King of Fighters Lives On in China and Latin America," 27 Apr. 2021 Proposals at the federal level to establish savings accounts at birth, for college, homes, business or retirement savings, go back to the 1990s. New York Times, "College Accounts at Birth: State Efforts Raise New Hopes," 27 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Horn was the No. 3 guy until Caleb Farley’s back surgery. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "Who will Andrew Berry and the Browns take with their first 2 picks? 2021 NFL mock draft 8.0," 29 Apr. 2021 During the fracas, police said in court documents, surveillance video shows Evans push Ferguson and another person down stairs leading from the apartment building to a back parking lot. Washington Post, "Police arrest suspect in Congress Heights shooting that killed 2, wounded 3," 29 Apr. 2021 Alysha Clark is out for the season with an injury, and Elena Delle Donne is recovering from a pair of back surgeries since winning the 2019 WNBA MVP and leading Washington to the 2020 championship. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "Former UConn women’s basketball stars set lofty goals for 2021 WNBA season," 29 Apr. 2021 Junior Flemmings isn’t there anymore to carve his way through a back line and singlehandedly get Phoenix going. Edwin Perez, The Arizona Republic, "What to expect from Phoenix Rising this season? We asked some experts to weigh in on key questions," 29 Apr. 2021 Browns could roll the dice on Caleb Farley here, although that Virginia Tech corner is coming off back surgery. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, "Sam Farmer’s NFL mock draft 3.0: Who goes after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson?," 29 Apr. 2021 Those who qualify could be eligible for up to 79 weeks of back payments. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "State expands unemployment programs aimed at helping those who turned down jobs or had reduced hours during COVID-19 pandemic," 28 Apr. 2021 Given the results, Apple was not hurt by the global semiconductor shortage that has ravaged many similar companies and held back car sales. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Wireless carriers discounting the iPhone 12 push Apple to a blow out quarter," 28 Apr. 2021 She got credited as a band member, with her photo at the center of the back cover, a touch Howard compared to Leonard Cohen putting Marianne on the cover of Songs From a Room. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, "Farewell, Anita Lane: A Storm in the Form of a Girl," 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To back that up, the Blackwell Consolidated Independent School District provides a postsecondary scholarship of up to US$36,000 for graduates from the district’s single high school. Ben Hoen, The Conversation, "Wind farms bring windfalls for rural schools, but school finance laws limit how money is spent," 28 Apr. 2021 Proponents would also have to convince a group of Democrats who have not pledged to back the statehood bill, among them West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "House will vote to make DC 51st state, but the proposal faces long odds in the Senate," 20 Apr. 2021 Dean said the tape was doctored, but offers no evidence to back that up. David Bauder And Marina Villeneuve, Star Tribune, "Fox meteorologist Dean turns into fierce Cuomo critic," 22 Mar. 2021 Piersilvio Gerometta, a 64-year-old heart surgeon at Bergamo’s Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital, is personally convinced that the area’s air pollution exacerbated the coronavirus crisis, though there are no studies to back that up. Janna Brancolini, Los Angeles Times, "COVID-19’s death toll in northern Italy was staggering. Did air pollution play a role?," 5 Mar. 2021 If all Democrats were to back a compromise bill, then the legislation would reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome potential blocking efforts and gain approval under regular Senate procedures. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, "Biden invites aid talks with GOP senators," 1 Feb. 2021 If all Democrats were to back an eventual compromise bill, the legislation would reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome potential blocking efforts and pass under regular Senate procedures. Lisa Mascaro, Chron, "Biden meets Republicans as Democrats push on for virus aid," 1 Feb. 2021 If all Democrats were to back an eventual compromise bill, the legislation would reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome potential blocking efforts and pass under regular Senate procedures. Aamer Madhani, ajc, "GOP lawmakers urge Biden to meet with them on virus relief," 31 Jan. 2021 Britton, the former OAN producer, recalled checking a website that Rouz had cited to back some of his reporting. BostonGlobe.com, "One America News Network stays true to Trump," 18 Apr. 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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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

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Back.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/back. Accessed 9 May. 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 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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Comments on back

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