back·​bone | \ ˈbak-ˈbōn How to pronounce backbone (audio) , -ˌbōn \

Definition of backbone

2 : something that resembles a backbone: such as
a : a chief mountain ridge, range, or system
b : the foundation or most substantial or sturdiest part of something
c : the longest chain of atoms or groups of atoms in a usually long molecule (such as a polymer or protein)
d : the primary high-speed hardware and transmission lines of a telecommunications network (such as the Internet)
3 : firm and resolute character

Other Words from backbone

backboned \ ˈbak-​ˌbōnd How to pronounce backbone (audio) \ adjective

Examples of backbone in a Sentence

She is the backbone of the family. He showed some backbone by refusing to compromise his values.
Recent Examples on the Web Small business is the backbone of America, but they haven't been treated with the same level of respect that big business franchises have. Adam Reuter, Baltimore Sun, 17 May 2022 Hydropower has long been a backbone of the Western power grid, with rivers from the Colorado to the Columbia fueling the growth of cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 Irish and American whiskies sourced from Great Northern distillery in Ireland and MGP in Indiana is the backbone of the Keeper’s Heart growth plan. Gina Pace, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Bronzer is the backbone of any good beauty look, people! Ariana Yaptangco, Glamour, 26 Apr. 2022 This high regard is the backbone of a forthcoming, untitled documentary about the musician. Brooklyn White, Essence, 26 Apr. 2022 Everything begins with sazón, the seasoning staple that is the backbone of cooking in Latin American and Caribbean regions. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 Apr. 2022 Grode is optimistic about Legendary’s fortunes, as well as the immediate future of theatrical exhibition, which has been the backbone of its business. Todd Longwell, Variety, 20 Apr. 2022 And a happy staff is the backbone of a successful company. Yec, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backbone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of backbone

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for backbone

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The first known use of backbone was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near backbone

back bond



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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Backbone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for backbone


back·​bone | \ ˈbak-ˈbōn How to pronounce backbone (audio) \

Kids Definition of backbone

1 : the column of bones in the back enclosing and protecting the spinal cord : spinal column
2 : the strongest part of something He is the backbone of the family.
3 : strength of character


back·​bone | \ -ˈbōn, -ˌbōn How to pronounce backbone (audio) \

Medical Definition of backbone

2 : the longest chain of atoms or groups of atoms in a usually long molecule (as a polymer or protein)

More from Merriam-Webster on backbone

Nglish: Translation of backbone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of backbone for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about backbone


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