back·​bite ˈbak-ˌbīt How to pronounce backbite (audio)
backbit; backbitten; backbiting

transitive + intransitive

: to say mean or spiteful things about a person (such as someone who is not present)
They beguiled the time by backbiting and intriguing against each other in a foolish kind of way.Joseph Conrad
backbiter noun

Examples of backbite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Return to menu The final season of the award-winning HBO drama about the backbiting Roy family doesn’t hold back. Pat Padua, Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2023 Revelations from pretrial discovery had been excruciating for the cable network, exposing a backbiting internal culture that featured employees who regularly doubted the content that aired nightly for millions of viewers. Sarah Ellison, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, The Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'backbite.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of backbite was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near backbite

Cite this Entry

“Backbite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


back·​bite -ˌbīt How to pronounce backbite (audio)
backbit; backbitten; backbiting
: to say mean things about a person who is not present
backbiter noun

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