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 There is a sawtooth hanger on the back for quick and easy installation. Chris Hachey, BGR, 2 June 2021 The original iPhone had a camera on the back for taking pictures of the world—now the 3G had another, quasi-imaginary one inside the phone that could be used for taking pictures of the screen, independently of any app. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 1 June 2021 And the pockets—on the back and in the front—are well-placed. Monte Burke, Forbes, 1 June 2021 The Mustangs’ practice shirts have different words on the back: Approach. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 30 May 2021 Perico also shot even on the back, but double bogeyed the first hole and followed Reeder at 3 over on the front. Eli Lederman, Arkansas Online, 30 May 2021 When all the flowers are attached (and the glue has dried completely), use the hanger on the back to hang your creation in your home. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 May 2021 On Saturday, Phil Mickelson torched the front nine and survived a wild ride on the back nine to shoot a 2-under 70 for a three-day total of 7-under 209 and a one-shot lead. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, 23 May 2021 One last bogey on the 18th gave him a 42 on the back nine and a 76. Ben Nuckols, ajc, 23 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb All three of them have been around going back to Miami’s 2019 regional appearance at Mississippi State before the 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. David Furones, sun-sentinel.com, 3 June 2021 Crucially, Canine Companions also keeps extensive information on the pedigree of each dog going back decades, which facilitated the genetic aspect of the study. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 June 2021 The twins have been out of school since the cotton lesson and do not feel comfortable going back until the incident is addressed, their mother said. NBC News, 3 June 2021 But back to cicadas and possible allergic reactions from eating them—what exactly is going on here? Korin Miller, Health.com, 3 June 2021 The hairs function as one-way valves—there’s no going back. Max G. Levy, Wired, 3 June 2021 That’s Ben Carlson of Ritholtz Wealth Management who crunches the numbers on corporate and stocks data going back to the 1930s to find that earnings growth doesn’t always correspond to knockout S&P 500 returns. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 2 June 2021 Randal Edgar, a spokesman for the agency that runs Eleanor Slater, noted in an email that this was the only Department of Health survey to identify a deficiency in its discharge policies going back to January 2019. BostonGlobe.com, 2 June 2021 And step one of confronting those feelings was going back to where the grief began. Taylor Kate Brown, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Herrmann said the back portion has a slope that would limit the size of a new building. . Julia Fair, The Enquirer, 4 June 2021 Men and women alike complain of joint pains, low back pain and difficulty in concentration. Yasser Abu Jamei, Scientific American, 4 June 2021 An aerial view of the ramp's top level showed a silver SUV with a shattered back window surrounded by other vehicles near a pop-up tent of the type used to shield a crime scene. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, 4 June 2021 The back patio of his townhome is a perfectly sized green space, with just enough room for gardens along the walls. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, 4 June 2021 All these rooms can be opened up or closed off to create the versatility, and Jonathan also improved the floor plan in the back corner, incorporating two former servants’ quarters into one proper bedroom with a bathroom. Bob Goldsborough, chicagotribune.com, 4 June 2021 And the automaker paid the back tariffs owed on those past imports. Chris Isidore, CNN, 3 June 2021 The restaurant space, with about 40 indoor seats and 25 in a back patio, will be outfitted in pastel pinks, blues and greens. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 June 2021 Brazil, China and India have become references in the global economy as powerhouses for call centers, customer service and back-office teams. Maritza Diaz, Forbes, 27 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb By floating an alternative — there is no minimum corporate tax now on profits — Biden was trying to give Republicans a way to back infrastructure without violating their own red line of keeping corporate tax rates at their current level. Josh Boak, chicagotribune.com, 3 June 2021 By floating an alternative — there is no minimum corporate tax now on profits — Biden was trying to give Republicans a way to back infrastructure without violating their own red line of keeping corporate tax rates low. Josh Boak, Star Tribune, 3 June 2021 But White House aides also called on the GOP to back funding for caring for elderly and disabled Americans, a $400 billion effort in its original proposal. Andrew Restuccia, WSJ, 2 June 2021 Few or no Democrats are expected to back the legislation. Lauren Mcgaughy, Dallas News, 28 May 2021 Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have publicly urged Senate Republican senators to also back the bill. Alex Rogers, Manu Raju And Ted Barrett, CNN, 27 May 2021 Voters with more education tended to support Ms. Garcia, and more liberal voters tended to back Ms. Wiley. New York Times, 24 May 2021 Lo, 62, once supported Yang, but has decided to back Adams instead. Rong Xiaoqing, Curbed, 23 May 2021 Environmental groups tend to back the concept, but Supervisor Joel Anderson, a Republican, expressed concern that such a fee would increase housing costs in his far-flung East County district. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 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

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Back.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/back. Accessed 16 Jun. 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

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