backstairs was our Word of the Day on 08/18/2014. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of backstairs in a Sentence
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.
behind-the-scenes, clandestine, covert, furtive, hugger-mugger, hush-hush, private, privy, secret, sneak, sneaking, sneaky, stealth, stealthy, surreptitious, undercover, underground, underhand, underhanded;
BACKSTAIRS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of backstairs for English Language Learners
: done in a secret and usually improper way
Seen and Heard
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