noun, often attributive
back·​bench | \ˈbak-ˈbench \

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 \ noun

Examples of backbench in a Sentence

the Prime Minister's supporters on the backbenches

Recent Examples on the Web

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 One senior administration official who often sat in the backbenches of those meetings last week described Mr. Trump’s growing frustration at being hemmed in by his two principal national security cabinet members. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Under Pompeo, a Foreign Policy That Fits the President’s Worldview," 13 Mar. 2018 While neither study has been officially released to the general public, backbench lawmakers from all parties have been allowed to view them in a locked reading room., "U.K. Judge Blocks Attempt to Force Release of Brexit Papers," 6 Mar. 2018 There he was greeted by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who chairs the party but holds no constitutional position beyond his role as a backbench MP serving Warsaw constituents. The Economist, "CharlemagnePower does not always lie where you might expect in Europe," 1 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.

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First Known Use of backbench

1799, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near backbench


back beam






Statistics for backbench

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for backbench

The first known use of backbench was in 1799

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English Language Learners Definition of backbench

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

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