backstairs

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adjective back·stairs \-ˌsterz\

Definition of backstairs

  1. 1 :  secret, furtive backstairs political deals

  2. 2 :  sordid, scandalous backstairs gossip

backstairs was our Word of the Day on 08/18/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of backstairs in a sentence

  1. an influential Washington lobbyist who has been involved in a number of backstairs deals to limit regulation of financial institutions

Did You Know?

When Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, wrote in 1654 about leading someone "down a back-stairs," he wasn’t referring to anything scandalous. He simply meant "down a secondary set of stairs at the back of a house." Just over a decade earlier, however, Boyle’s contemporary, Sir Edward Dering, had used the phrase "going up the back-stairs" in a figurative way to suggest a means of approach that was not entirely honest and upfront. The figurative use likely arose from the simple notion that the stairs at the rear of a building are less visible and thus allow for a certain degree of sneakiness. By 1663, backstairs was also being used adjectivally to describe something done furtively, often with an underhanded or sinister connotation.

1663

First Known Use of backstairs

1663


BACKSTAIRS Defined for English Language Learners

backstairs

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adjective back·stairs \-ˌsterz\

Definition of backstairs for English Language Learners

  • : done in a secret and usually improper way



Seen and Heard

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