noun, often attributive
back·​bench | \ ˈbak-ˈbench How to pronounce backbench (audio) \

Definition of backbench

: a bench in a British legislature (such as the House of Commons) occupied by rank-and-file members — compare front bench

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Other Words from backbench

backbencher \ ˈbak-​ˈben-​chər How to pronounce backbencher (audio) \ noun

Examples of backbench in a Sentence

the Prime Minister's supporters on the backbenches
Recent Examples on the Web In early March, backbench MPs from the ruling Conservative Party staged a rebellion over Huawei, against their own government. Matthew Henderson, National Review, "The U.K. Should Abandon Plans to Collaborate with Huawei," 1 May 2020 Mr Johnson, who began 2019 as a backbench member of a party that was on the ropes, starts 2020 as the most powerful prime minister since Tony Blair. The Economist, "Not yet done 2019 in review: Britain’s turbulent times," 21 Dec. 2019 The last 10 years have been generally brutal for the Democratic Party’s backbench. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Most Important Role in a Biden (or Sanders) Administration," 10 Mar. 2020 The governing Liberal-National coalition, meanwhile, faces regular backbench calls to publicly fund new coal generation and export projects. David Fickling | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "How Australia’s Election Could Save the World (But Won’t)," 19 May 2019 The booklet was an attempt by Mr McDonnell, then on the backbenches, to scupper the coronation of Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party and prime minister in 2007. The Economist, "A Labour government would radically transform Britain," 30 Oct. 2019 Corbyn, who spent his entire career as a backbench gadfly until unexpectedly winning a party leadership election in 2015, was criticized for silencing critics within the party and failing to root out anti-Semitism among his supporters. Washington Post, "Johnson claims Brexit mandate with new conservative majority," 13 Dec. 2019 Mr Netanyahu intends to be in that race as leader of his right-wing Likud party, despite his weakening position and murmurings of rebellion on his backbenches. The Economist, "Binyamin Netanyahu vows to fight on despite charges of bribery and fraud," 21 Nov. 2019 As a backbench member of the minority party in the House, O’Rourke was not particularly influential. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Beto O’Rourke’s 2020 presidential campaign and policies, explained," 26 June 2019

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

1799, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for backbench

Time Traveler

The first known use of backbench was in 1799

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Cite this Entry

“Backbench.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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How to pronounce backbench (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of backbench

British : a seat in the British Parliament that is held by an ordinary member

More from Merriam-Webster on backbench

Nglish: Translation of backbench for Spanish Speakers

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