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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Hunt said he was offered another job in the administration but decided to return to the backbenches. Karla Adam,, "Boris Johnson becomes British prime minister," 24 July 2019 May has expressed her intention to return to the Conservative backbenches when her eventful and frequently agonizing residence in Downing Street comes to an end. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Theresa May condemns populism and expresses Brexit regret in last major speech as British PM," 17 July 2019 If Mr Joyce hadn’t got so sloshed, Jeremy Corbyn might still be on the backbenches, and Labour might have campaigned much more vigorously for Britain to stay in the European Union. The Economist, "Last orders for political drinking," 31 May 2018 In the New Yorker, George Packer profiles Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), a backbench House member who fits the brand. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The fall of the not-quite-Trumpers," 6 Nov. 2018 The party has a talented crop of MPs elected in 2015 and 2017 who are stranded on the backbenches. The Economist, "A quiet revolution in Theresa May’s cabinet," 12 July 2018 That is true, and adding in budget payments and free movement will surely prompt further cabinet resignations and backbench rebellions. The Economist, "A new Brexit plan creates fresh depths of chaos," 12 July 2018 The loss of two senior ministers and the anger among Brexit-supporting backbench lawmakers makes May’s position as leader increasingly tenuous. Washington Post, "Boris Johnson quits UK government in mounting Brexit crisis," 9 July 2018 Labour’s leadership team has proposed similar amendments, and McDonnell suggested the party may get behind the Tory backbench proposals., "Labour Says ‘Inevitable’ U.K. Will Stay in an EU Customs Union," 8 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of backbench

1799, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about backbench

Dictionary Entries near backbench


back beam






Statistics for backbench

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backbench

The first known use of backbench was in 1799

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for backbench



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backbench

Nglish: Translation of backbench for Spanish Speakers

Comments on backbench

What made you want to look up backbench? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to be made up of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!