back

noun
\ ˈbak How to pronounce back (audio) \
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 How to pronounce Back (audio) \

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 How to pronounce backed (audio) \ adjective
backless \ ˈbak-​ləs How to pronounce backless (audio) \ adjective

Verb

backer \ ˈba-​kər How to pronounce backer (audio) \ 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

The maker of Revlon hair dryers and Pert shampoo has put the business up for sale, according to people familiar with the matter, as shoppers turn their backs on mass-market personal-care brands. Sharon Terlep, WSJ, "Owner of Revlon Hair Dryers, Pert Shampoo Looks to Exit Beauty Business," 10 Mar. 2019 The high-rise lands just above my belly button, without space leftover in the back; my thighs and butt, meanwhile, are hugged by the fabric, not choked. Glamour, "These American Eagle Jeans Solve This Annoying Denim Problem for Good," 7 Mar. 2019 The electric motors—the two in the back are 36hp (27kW) each, and the one that's built into the transmission cranks out 47hp (35Nm)—provide the additional horsepower and instant torque. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Love the hardware, hate the UI: The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid," 13 Dec. 2018 As multiple tech companies turned their backs on Jones and his hate speech toward immigrants and minorities, Twitter was the main platform left still equivocating. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Twitter permanently suspends Infowars and Alex Jones," 6 Sep. 2018 Early mornings lead into back-to-back shows and running around like a maniac, which then linger into long nights. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Watch Taylor Hill’s New York Fashion Week Experience, Which Included Pizza Delivery and a Backbend on the Runway," 19 Feb. 2019 Twelve international designers showed back to back, three of their best looks for the design competition in front of fashion editors, tastemakers and bold-faced name judges. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "Edward Crutchley and Colovos Take Home the 2019 Woolmark Prizes," 18 Feb. 2019 If enough candidates qualify, each debate could be split, with back-to-back broadcasts on consecutive weeknights. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "DNC Says First 2 Primary Debates Could Have Up to 20 Presidential Contenders," 14 Feb. 2019 The country superstar has a love story that sounds like a fairytale, nearly a dozen awards for her music, and two back-to-back wins on The Voice. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Kelly Clarkson Admits It's 'Hard' to Juggle Her Tour and Kids: ‘I’m Not an Absentee Mom’," 20 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Nicole Kidman, for example, brought back her incredible red curls, while Lupita Nyong'o switched up her style several times for the various premieres of Us. Marci Robin, Allure, "Julia Roberts Just Cut Her Signature Hair Into a Wavy Lob — Her Shortest Look in Years," 16 Mar. 2019 That day, Meghan and Prince Harry had two back-to-back engagements: first, visiting Canada House, and later, attending the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Doesn't Have Any More Official Engagements Planned Before Her Maternity Leave," 14 Mar. 2019 Chance encounters constantly bring Lucy and Jack together and while their chemistry is undeniable, the fear of losing someone again holds Jack back. Lindsey O'connell, Woman's Day, "Exclusive! Watch a Sneak Peek of Hallmark Channel’s New Movie with Jodie Sweetin from 'Fuller House'," 5 Mar. 2019 Johnny Louis/Getty Images Diamond and Silk, the Trump-supporting North Carolina sisters who inexplicably became a centerpiece of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings last year, are headed back to Capitol Hill. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Diamond and Silk, Fox & Friends’ favorite black Trump supporters, explained," 5 Feb. 2019 The Lakers also have three games against the Clippers and Kings to quickly vault themselves back into the playoffs and maybe even the No. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Buy Low on LeBron James and the Lakers," 15 Feb. 2019 The move to extend presidential terms comes amid concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule. Samy Magdy, The Seattle Times, "Egypt accelerates efforts to extend el-Sissi’s rule," 11 Feb. 2019 Kabuye is a member of parliament, and to this day the highest-ranking woman to have ever served in Rwanda’s military as a Lieutenant Colonel, making history by leading the RPF army back into Rwanda in the early 1990s. Caterina Clerici & Eléonore Hamelin, Marie Claire, "Rwanda's Future Is Female," 1 Feb. 2019 In other words, the BBC was going to put the action back into the terrifying bunny story. Aja Romano, Vox, "Netflix’s new Watership Down proves the beloved children’s classic was a horror story all along," 30 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Visibility out the back windows is compromised slightly by a sloping roofline and large C pillars. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Review: GMC Terrain gives you the ride you want—at a price," 23 Dec. 2018 Several people were able to escape over the course of a three-hour standoff, with some walking out the front entrance and others climbing out the back window. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "A 3-Hour Hostage Situation at Trader Joe's Ended With One Person Killed," 22 July 2018 Robertson was with two other people in the car, around 2:10 p.m., when an unknown number of people fired several shots into the back window. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Man shot, killed while sitting in car in Houston's South Side," 10 July 2018 Expect to see these with Lyft and Uber decals in the back window. Mark Maynard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: Forever young," 22 June 2018 Originally the house of Ray Lyman Wilbur, Stanford's president in 1915, the estate sits on a high hill where two of Stanford's main roads bisect; from a back window, rolling green hills give way to the horizon. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "The Aural Magic of Stanford's Laptop Orchestra," 8 June 2018 The freezer drawers glide out and extend fully, which a very helpful feature for those with back pain. Betty Gold, Good Housekeeping, "7 Best Counter-Depth Refrigerators to Buy in 2019, Reviewed By Kitchen Appliance Experts," 27 Feb. 2019 Just taking a few moments on the front end can save you a lot of time and heartache and finances on the back end. Dennis Nishi, WSJ, "The Cybersecurity Mistakes Startups Make When They Get Big," 25 Nov. 2018 To use, twist the nasal atomizer onto the head of the syringe and twist the naloxone vial onto the back end. Tessie Castillo, SELF, "Here’s How to Use the Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone," 26 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The other important indicator here is that politicians who backed gun control won big this year in the midterm elections. German Lopez, Vox, "How the Parkland shooting changed America’s gun debate," 26 Dec. 2018 Several young, high-profile general partners who backed consumer companies have exited Greylock over the last few years, including Sarah Tavel, who departed for Benchmark, and Josh Elman, who decamped for the stock-trading company Robinhood. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "An old-guard investment firm, CRV, has made a hire to compete for the new megadeals," 5 Nov. 2018 There's a special crowd-funding launch price of $799 available to those who back the Puppy Cube on IndieGoGo now (with shipping dates in December 2018); the regular MSRP is $1,500. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Puppy Cube mini-review: 720p limits the potential, but it works surprisingly well," 30 Oct. 2018 And even wilder, anyone who backed the original Hollow Knight on Kickstarter will receive Silksong for free. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Hollow Knight gets a sequel, Neill Blomkamp makes a live-action Anthem trailer," 15 Feb. 2019 Last month, the Trump administration chose to dramatically escalate the pressure by backing Mr. Guaidó and his supporters in the National Assembly and sanctioning PdVSA. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "U.S. Sanctions Venezuela’s Oil Chief, Says Food Aid Will Be Flown to Border," 15 Feb. 2019 Even Rei Kawakubo, the designer who backs Junya Watanabe’s menswear, issued a statement on punk old ladies for Spring 2019. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "In the Year of the Runway Zaddy, Where Are the MILFs?," 4 Feb. 2019 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

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

19 Mar 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 How to pronounce back (audio) \

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 How to pronounce back (audio) \

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

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