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

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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

According to the show, these two weren't creative equals but rather Gwen was the backbone to Bob's genius. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Fosse/Verdon Proves It's Time to Cancel the Fragile Male Ego," 10 Apr. 2019 The Pennsylvania attorney general says documents from the diocese's secret archives formed the backbone of the investigation. Fox News, "Geraldo on Trump's war of words with Omarosa," 15 Aug. 2018 Thousands of foreign fighters, from China, Europe and the Middle East, are the backbone of the radical groups. Fox News, "Last stand: Syria's rebel Idlib prepares for a losing battle," 16 Sep. 2018 Shipments of boxes stuffed with clothing, electronics, manufacturing parts and a broad range of consumer goods across the oceans are the backbone of global trade. Costas Paris, WSJ, "A Storm Is Gathering Over Container Shipping," 3 Mar. 2019 Despite the wealth of private money, public money is still the backbone of the Tokyo Olympics. Stephen Wade, The Seattle Times, "Bach and IOC: No Olympic city ever as ready as Tokyo," 5 Dec. 2018 In 1973 C-5s were the backbone of an emergency airlift of supplies to Israel, which had been the victim of a surprise attack by its Arab neighbors. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Why the C-5 Galaxy Is Such a Badass Plane," 18 July 2018 With Judge [Brett] Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and those Republicans in Congress seeming to lack any sort of a backbone on the issue, there [are] no checks and balances on President Trump’s White House and the federal government. Iman Hariri-kia, Teen Vogue, "Meet Will Haskell, the 22-Year-Old Who Beat a Republican Who Had Been in Office as Long as He’s Been Alive," 14 Nov. 2018 The rule of law is one of the backbones of European cooperation, and there are a number of laws in Poland that raise questions,’’ Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said before foreign ministers from EU countries convened a hearing in Luxembourg. BostonGlobe.com, "EU panel question if Poland’s overhaul of justice system violates democratic standards," 26 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of backbone

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for backbone

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backbone

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

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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)

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Comments on backbone

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