back

noun
\ ˈbak \
plural backs

Definition of back

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a(1) : the rear part of the human body especially from the neck to the end of the spine
(2) : the body considered as the wearer of clothes They were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
(3) : capacity for labor, effort, or endurance Put your back into it!
(4) : the back considered as the seat of one's awareness of duty or failings get off my back
(5) : the back considered as an area of vulnerability the police officer's partner always watches his back
b : the part of a lower animal (such as a quadruped) corresponding to the human back riding on the back of an elephant
c : spinal column She had surgery on her back.
d : spine sense 1c The title is on the book's back.
2a : the side or surface opposite the front or face I only saw him from the back. : the rear part the back of the head the back of the mirror also : the farther or reverse side wrote the number on the back of an envelope
b : something at or on the back for support back of a chair
c : a place away from the front sat in back
3 : a position in some games (such as football or soccer) behind the front line of players also : a player in this position a defensive back
4 informal : a swimming race in which swimmers use the backstroke She placed first in the 100-meter back.
back of one's hand or back of the hand
: a show of contempt
back of one's mind
: the part of one's mind where thoughts and memories are stored to be drawn on
behind one's back
: without one's knowledge talking about me behind my back
in back of
: behind One day, I was sitting in the tiny parlor in back of the store …— John McNulty

back

adverb

Definition of back (Entry 2 of 5)

1a : to, toward, or at the rear asked the crowd to move back
b : in or into the past : backward in time looking back on her youth an event back in the last century Back then, no one had ever heard of chronic fatigue syndrome. also : ago several years back met him in the street two days back
c : to or at an angle off the vertical leaned back on his chair
d(1) : under restraint He wanted to fight but his friends held him back. holding back a laugh
(2) : in a delayed or retarded condition Bad weather set the launch date back several days.
e : in an inferior or secondary position especially : behind a competitor in points or ranking finished three strokes back
2a : to, toward, or in a place from which a person or thing came She left home and never went back. put the book back
b : to or toward a former state went back to private life
c : in return or reply forgot to write back

back

adjective

Definition of back (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : being at or in the back back door
b : distant from a central or main area back roads
c of a speech sound : articulated at or toward the back of the oral passage : formed deep within the mouth back vowels
2 : having returned or been returned
3 : being in arrears : overdue is owed several months in back pay
4 : moving or operating backward : reverse back action with oars
5 : not current back issues of a magazine
6 golf : constituting the final 9 holes of an 18-hole course

back

verb
backed; backing; backs

Definition of back (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

1a : to support by material or moral assistance backing a candidate for governor often used with up back up a friend in a fight
b : substantiate often used with up needs to back up her argument with evidence
c : to assume financial responsibility for back a new company
d : to provide musical accompaniment for often used with up a singer backed up by a guitarist
2a : to cause to go back (see back entry 2 sense 1a) or in reverse back the car into the garage
b : to articulate (a speech sound) with the tongue farther back : to form deeper within the mouth
3a : to furnish with a rear part : to furnish with a back (see back entry 1 sense 2) back a skirt with stiff material
b : to be at the rear part of : to be at the back (see back entry 1 sense 2) of a row of garages back the building

intransitive verb

1 : to move backward backed into a parking space often used with up back up to give him some spaceLet's back up a little to clarify what we're saying.
2 of the wind : to shift counterclockwise — compare veer entry 1 sense 2
3 : to have the rear part facing in the direction of something The house backs onto a golf course.
back and fill
1 nautical : to manage the sails of a ship so as to keep it clear of obstructions as it floats down with the current of a river or channel
2 : to take opposite positions alternately : shilly-shally has been back and filling on the issue
back into
: to get into inadvertently backed into the antiques business

Back

geographical name
\ ˈbak \

Definition of Back (Entry 5 of 5)

river 605 miles (974 kilometers) long in Nunavut, Canada, rising along the border with the Northwest Territories and flowing east-northeast into the Arctic Ocean

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Other Words from back

Noun

backed \ ˈbakt \ adjective
backless \ ˈbak-​ləs \ adjective

Verb

backer \ ˈba-​kər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for back

Synonyms: Noun

rear, reverse, tail

Synonyms: Adverb

ago, agone [archaic], since, syne [chiefly Scottish]

Synonyms: Adjective

aft, after, hind, hinder, hindmost, posterior, rear, rearward

Synonyms: Verb

advocate, champion, endorse (also indorse), patronize, plump (for), plunk (for) or plonk (for) , support

Antonyms: Noun

face, forehead, forepart, front

Antonyms: Adverb

hence

Antonyms: Adjective

anterior, fore, forward, front, frontal

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Choose the Right Synonym for back

Verb

support, uphold, advocate, back, champion mean to favor actively one that meets opposition. support is least explicit about the nature of the assistance given. supports waterfront development uphold implies extended support given to something attacked. upheld the legitimacy of the military action advocate stresses urging or pleading. advocated prison reform back suggests supporting by lending assistance to one failing or falling. refusing to back the call for sanctions champion suggests publicly defending one unjustly attacked or too weak to advocate his or her own cause. championed the rights of children

recede, retreat, retract, back mean to move backward. recede implies a gradual withdrawing from a forward or high fixed point in time or space. the flood waters gradually receded retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached. retreating soldiers retract implies drawing back from an extended position. a cat retracting its claws back is used with up, down, out, or off to refer to any retrograde motion. backed off on the throttle

Examples of back in a Sentence

Noun

She was carrying her little daughter on her back. She has a pain in the small of her back. I slapped him on his back to congratulate him. She stabbed him in the back. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. a bird with a spotted back riding on the back of a horse a comfortable chair with a padded back

Adverb

The soldiers moved back from the front lines. The police asked the crowd to move back from the scene of the accident. He left his friends two miles back. She turned around and looked back toward him. a chapter beginning several pages back He left his home and never went back. It's time to go back home. She took the book off the shelf and forgot to put it back. In the opening chapter the author looks back on his youth. an event back in the last century

Adjective

He keeps his wallet in his back pocket. We came in through the back entrance. We drove on the back roads instead of the main roads. The company owes him several months in back pay.

Verb

I'm backing him for President. She backed the winner of the race and won a lot of money. She backed her argument with written evidence. She backed the singer on the guitar. She backed into a parking space. She backed out of the garage. The dog kept growling but backed off cautiously. back a skirt with stiff material
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Official time for the back-to-back double episode premiere of @besthouseontheblock is 11 PM EST | 10 C | 9 Mtn | 8 & 11 PST on Thursday Nov 8 on @diynetwork !! Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Everything You Need to Know About David and Lauren Liess's New DIY Network Show," 6 Nov. 2018 Despite the dietary turn, the ways of his ancestors didn’t completely escape him: The man was laid to rest on his back, body straight, palms on his belly. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 As rumors swirl that Meghan may not have endeared herself to every member of the royal family, their future patriarch has her back. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Paid a Subtle Tribute to Prince Charles's Work at the British Fashion Awards," 11 Dec. 2018 In southeastern Europe, hunter-gatherers buried their dead on their backs with hands usually placed on the stomach and legs straight. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 Symptoms could also appear in your left arm, jaw, and even your back, Dr. Jhalani says. Amy Capetta, Redbook, "6 Subtle Signs of a Heart Attack in Women," 25 July 2018 Related The growing need in care for knees, hips, shoulders and backs comes as the U.S. population ages and as health, wellness and fitness become more central to all populations. Melanie Grayce West, WSJ, "Hospitals See Opportunity in Bringing Care Facilities to Patients," 3 Jan. 2019 Joseph was the defensive backs coach under Lewis in 2014-15. Joe Kay, The Seattle Times, "Former Broncos coach Joseph set to interview for Bengals job," 2 Jan. 2019 Facebook began the year with a major change: shifting the balance of posts in the News Feed away from publishers and back toward friends. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Facebook," 26 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Gunna, the Young Thug affiliate who rubbed elbows with Virgil Abloh at the menswear shows in Paris a few weeks back, put in a valiant showing at the Louis Vuitton show, but Migos might still take the cake. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Who Drips Harder, Gucci Mane or Quavo?," 1 Feb. 2019 Going back to ReLive, the feature can record gameplay for posterity, stream it to the world, or grab a screenshot. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "AMD ReLive review: A stylish video capture tool for Radeon graphics cards," 31 Jan. 2019 The keto diet dates back to the 1920s, explains Michelle Hyman, MS, RD, CDN a registered dietitian at Simple Solutions Weight Loss. Karla Walsh, Woman's Day, "What Is the Keto Diet, Exactly?," 27 Dec. 2018 The idea of gambling in the state has been controversial for decades; in fact, anti-casino activists were able to gather enough signatures to get a question back on the November 2014 ballot that would have outlawed casinos once more. Andrea Bennett, Condé Nast Traveler, "Will New Casinos Bring a "MassVegas" to New England?," 17 Dec. 2018 France’s Eugénie Le Sommer scored in each of those games and is back with Les Bleus. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, "U.S. Women’s Soccer Wraps Camp, Faces France," 18 Jan. 2019 After a month-long hiatus, Riverdale is back to its old tricks, shocking viewers and leaving us with literally a million questions. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, ""Riverdale" Midseason Premiere's Most Shocking Moments," 17 Jan. 2019 Oh and Comer are both back in their respective roles for Season 2, as is Fiona Shaw, who plays MI6 operative Carolyn Martens. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About Killing Eve Season 2," 15 Jan. 2019 The next neighborhood over is Galata, a Genoese colony back in the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Three Days In Istanbul," 28 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Lucy Inglis is a respected historian of 18th-century London who curates a blog about the back stories of England’s capital and lives in the shadows of Christopher Wren’s cathedral of St. Paul. Richard Davenport-hines, WSJ, "‘Milk of Paradise’ Review: The Growth of a Global Problem," 1 Feb. 2019 Pop your back tire off, attach your bike to the trainer with your rear axle (through axles work as well), and loop your chain over the Kickr’s 11-speed cassette. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "PM Approved: Kickr Smart Bike Trainer," 29 Jan. 2019 Megan, Sam the Red, Dr. Jay, and I—are holding down the fort here for the back half of the week. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Ars Christmas downtime special: four movies retold as medieval tales," 26 Dec. 2018 Smith missed his third straight game with back tightness. . Dave Jackson, The Seattle Times, "Curry scores 48, hits 11 3s as Warriors beat Mavs 119-114," 13 Jan. 2019 But the main focus along the back wall is a gray storage cabinet with sliding glass doors—and that's where the curiosity comes in. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "The IKEA Homepage Is A Little Freaky Right Now, But There's A Reason For It," 11 Jan. 2019 Keep your weight in the heel of your left foot, and keep your back straight (not arched or rounded), your eyes up, and engage your hamstrings, glutes, and core. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Hailey Bieber Strengthens Her Core and Lower Half With This One 4-Part Exercise," 4 Jan. 2019 Many schools across the country have looked into pushing back school start times but fell short of actually making the change. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Why Schools Should Start Later and Teens Should Sleep More," 4 Jan. 2019 Choose from two shapes: Classic, which has a low profile for stomach and back sleepers, or contoured, a curved fit for side and back sleepers, both of which come in sizes standard or king. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, "7 Best Memory Foam Pillows You Can Buy," 21 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There are four cameras in total: 12-megapixel wide-angle and telephoto modules on the back, and a 24-megapixel selfie camera backed by a 2-megapixel sensor on the front. Sam Byford, The Verge, "Xiaomi announces Mi Mix 3 with sliding cameras and no notch," 25 Oct. 2018 But the secretary of state had woken up in the capital of Saudi Arabia on Monday to find that President Donald Trump had tweeted a threat to NATO ally Turkey warning of economic harm should the Turks attack U.S.-backed rebel forces in Syria. Matthew Lee, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s evolving foreign policy challenges top US diplomat," 15 Jan. 2019 For over 130 years, Good Housekeeping has been committed to making our readers' lives easier through genius solutions and expert advice — all backed by the science of the Good Housekeeping Institute. Good Housekeeping, "Contact the Editors and Get Help for Your Good Housekeeping Subscription," 21 Dec. 2018 There are already limited research and pilot programs for hemp, which McConnell backed in the past. German Lopez, Vox, "Trump and Congress just legalized hemp," 20 Dec. 2018 Vivo has gone for a 12-megapixel primary camera backed with a 2-megapixel secondary module, and there’s also a third f/1.3 lens paired with a time of flight (TOF) 3D module. Sam Byford, The Verge, "Vivo’s new Nex has a second display and ‘Lunar Ring’ on the back," 11 Dec. 2018 Having backed many a boat down a boat ramp, this feels entirely and profoundly wrong: your whole goal is to keep the truck out of the water. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "One of Best Rides at Disney Isn't a Ride," 19 Nov. 2018 Photos from the scene show a black SUV backed onto the dashboard of another car. Felicia Gans, BostonGlobe.com, "SUV ends up on top of car in Roxbury crash," 14 July 2018 Who's who: Adamek; Betsy Ade (lead vocals, guitar, ukelele); Roger Gower (drums); Sacia Jerome (cello, backing vocals); Theodore Koth (lead guitar); John Kulas (bass). Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "At concerts, White Sox and Bulls games, folks are getting familiar with Well-Known Strangers," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'back.' 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 back

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1548, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for back

Noun

Middle English, from Old English bæc; akin to Old High German bah back, Old Norse bak

Adverb

Middle English bac, aphetic form of abak aback

Adjective

Middle English, partly attributive use of bac, back back entry 1, partly derivative of back back entry 2

Verb

verbal derivative of back entry 1

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Learn More about back

Dictionary Entries near back

bacillus

Baciroa

bacitracin

back

Back

backache

backache brake

Statistics for back

Last Updated

5 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for back

The first known use of back was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for back

back

noun

English Language Learners Definition of back

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: the rear part of the body : the part of the body that is opposite to the stomach and chest and that goes from the neck to the top of the legs
: the part of an animal that is like a person's back
: the side or surface of something that is opposite the front or face : the rear side or surface of something

back

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of back (Entry 2 of 4)

: in, toward, or at the back or rear
: to, toward, or in the place where someone or something was previously
: in or into the past : backward in time

back

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of back (Entry 3 of 4)

: of or relating to the back : located at the back
: far from a central or main area
: not yet paid : owed from an earlier time

back

verb

English Language Learners Definition of back (Entry 4 of 4)

: to give help to (someone)
: to bet on (someone or something)
: to provide evidence that supports (something)

back

noun
\ ˈbak \

Kids Definition of back

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : the rear part of the human body from the neck to the end of the spine : the upper part of the body of an animal
2 : the part of something that is opposite or away from the front part
3 : a player in a team game who plays behind the forward line of players

Other Words from back

backed \ ˈbakt \ adjective a high-backed chair

back

adverb

Kids Definition of back (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : to, toward, or at the rear The crowd moved back.
2 : in or to a former time, state, or place I started working here some years back. I'll be right back.
3 : under control I kept back my anger.
4 : in return or reply Please write back. Give me back my bike.
back and forth
1 : toward the back and then toward the front
2 : between two places or people They sailed back and forth across the lake.

back

adjective

Kids Definition of back (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : located at the back the back door
2 : far from a central or main area back roads
3 : not yet paid : overdue He owes back rent.
4 : no longer published back issues of a magazine

back

verb
backed; backing

Kids Definition of back (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : to give support or help to : uphold Which candidate are you backing?
2 : to move back She backed out of the garage.
back down
: to stop arguing or fighting for something You just can't back down and let people say I told you so.— Oliver Butterworth, The Enormous Egg
back off
: to back down
back out
: to decide not to do something after agreeing to do it

Other Words from back

backer noun

back

noun
\ ˈbak \

Medical Definition of back

1a : the rear part of the human body especially from the neck to the end of the spine
b : the corresponding part of a lower animal (as a quadruped)
2 : the part of the upper surface of the tongue behind the front and lying opposite the soft palate when the tongue is at rest

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back

adjective

Legal Definition of back

1 : being overdue or in arrears back rent
2 : being retroactive especially as compensation reinstated with back pay

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More from Merriam-Webster on back

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with back

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for back

Spanish Central: Translation of back

Nglish: Translation of back for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of back for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about back

Comments on back

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

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