Definition of back-and-forth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

back and forth


Definition of back and forth (Entry 2 of 2)

: backward and forward also : between two places or persons

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Examples of back-and-forth in a Sentence

Adverb The chair rocked back and forth. The children were shuttled back and forth between school and home.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Sanders' plan was not viewed positively, and there's been some back and forth. Annah Aschbrenner, USA TODAY, "OnPolitics: The one with no impeachment news," 14 Feb. 2020 Gaze deeply into each others’ eyes for 30 seconds to one minute, specially focusing left eye to left eye to prevent your eyes from darting back and forth, and throwing you off your O game. The Editors, Marie Claire, "18 Tips for a Better Orgasm," 11 Feb. 2020 Your body should move up and down vertically, rather than shift back and forth. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, "The 4 Most Common Mistakes Made While Lunging," 11 Feb. 2020 Indeed, historians often compare the mostly bloodless civil wars that characterized California politics during the Mexican period to the wars in comic operas, in which armies march noisily back and forth without ever actually fighting. Gary Kamiya,, "The day the Mexican-American War came to Santa Clara," 7 Feb. 2020 McCain then talked to a producer and paced back and forth, having a tense conversation. John Gage, Washington Examiner, "Sparks fly off-camera at The View after Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain go head-to-head," 6 Feb. 2020 As in many dynamic, binational communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, the main crossing in San Luis includes hundreds, if not thousands, of school children and teenagers commuting back and forth daily. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Border officers see increase in school-aged teens smuggling fentanyl in San Luis," 6 Feb. 2020 That’s the question asked by an increasingly desperate Chinese father at a checkpoint after driving back and forth on a bridge trying to get back into the city of Chongqing with his wife and young son. Jane Li, Quartz, "Fearful cities in China are turning people into coronavirus refugees in their own country," 5 Feb. 2020 Whenever cover or terrain prevents you from seeing one another, keep in constant contact by whistling or talking back and forth. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "How to Hunt Winter Rabbits without Dogs," 3 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'back-and-forth.' 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-and-forth


1941, in the meaning defined above


1613, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for back-and-forth

Time Traveler

The first known use of back-and-forth was in 1613

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Cite this Entry

“Back-and-forth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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English Language Learners Definition of back-and-forth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: talk or discussion about something

back and forth


English Language Learners Definition of back and forth (Entry 2 of 2)

: toward the back and then toward the front : backward and forward
: between two places or people

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