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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from backbone

backboned \ ˈbak-​ˌbōnd How to pronounce backbone (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 Irish and American whiskies sourced from Great Northern distillery in Ireland and MGP in Indiana is the backbone of the Keeper’s Heart growth plan. Gina Pace, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Bronzer is the backbone of any good beauty look, people! Ariana Yaptangco, Glamour, 26 Apr. 2022 This high regard is the backbone of a forthcoming, untitled documentary about the musician. Brooklyn White, Essence, 26 Apr. 2022 Everything begins with sazón, the seasoning staple that is the backbone of cooking in Latin American and Caribbean regions. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 Apr. 2022 Grode is optimistic about Legendary’s fortunes, as well as the immediate future of theatrical exhibition, which has been the backbone of its business. Todd Longwell, Variety, 20 Apr. 2022 And a happy staff is the backbone of a successful company. Yec, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2022 Still, Khan urged his supporters to take to the streets, particularly the youth who have been the backbone of his support since the former cricket star turned conservative Islamist politician came to power in 2018. NBC News, 10 Apr. 2022 All of you in attendance are truly the backbone of our great country. Mitchell Peters, Billboard, 9 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

First Known Use of backbone

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About backbone

Time Traveler for backbone

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near backbone

back bond



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for backbone

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Backbone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for backbone


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


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)

More from Merriam-Webster on backbone

Nglish: Translation of backbone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of backbone for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about backbone


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!