backbone

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from backbone

backboned \ ˈbak-​ˌbōnd How to pronounce backboned (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

That belief formed the spiritual backbone of the civil rights movement. John Blake, CNN, "Harris dropped a bomb on Biden that's bigger than politics," 29 June 2019 Like a quilt made up of different fabrics, these values and interests are the thread that holds a solution together, the almost invisible backbone that plays a critical role in bringing differing opinions to a mutual agreement. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Homelessness: Many sides of the same coin," 23 June 2019 This method of lawmaking forms the backbone of much of American labor, anti-discrimination, health care, and countless other areas of law. Ian Millhiser, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court’s Covert Plan to Gut the EPA’s Powers," 21 June 2019 For the most attractive presentation, cook split chicken; cut small (3 to 4 pound) chickens in half through the breastbone, then cut out the backbone to create two half pieces. Jeanmarie Brownson, chicagotribune.com, "Homemade harissa sauce sparks ordinary grilled chicken," 19 June 2019 The firm has competition from Amazon, which just announced its own backbone service for data out of orbit and into its data centres, called AWS Ground Station. The Economist, "A new business in small satellites orbiting the Earth," 15 June 2019 Real estate and construction have been the backbone holding up the economy this year as exports and the labor market have been pummeled. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Juice for China’s Economy Is Coming," 14 June 2019 That your friend/patient lacks the backbone to insist you be included suggests to me that your relationship appears to be a one-way street. Abigail Van Buren, Twin Cities, "Dear Abby: Wealthy man’s companion is shut out of family holidays," 14 June 2019 That your friend/patient lacks the backbone to insist you be included suggests to me that your relationship appears to be a one-way street. Dear Abby, oregonlive.com, "Dear Abby: Husband procrastinates, then accuses wife of nagging him to get things done," 14 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of backbone

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about backbone

Statistics for backbone

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backbone

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for backbone

backbone

noun

English Language Learners Definition of backbone

: the row of connected bones that go down the middle of the back and protect the spinal cord
: the most important or strongest part of something
: strength and courage

backbone

noun
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

backbone

noun
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)

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on backbone

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

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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