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back

Overview

This page has 67 definitions of back with English translations in 6 languages. Back is an adjective, an adverb, noun and verb. Examples of how to use back in a sentence are shown. Also define these 67 related words and terms: rear, previous, backward, phonetics, pronounce, tongue, mouth, soft palate, vowel, impede, reciprocal, in return, earlier, ago, put back, body, neck, spine, chest, belly, buttock, backrest, farthest, front, bind, printing, margin, blade, reverse, backyard, last, sports, team sport, nautical, keel, keelson, mining, leather, dealer, hide, swimming, backstroke, direction, support, change, contrary, normal, pattern, anticlockwise, clockwise, brace, yard, wind, slow, ship, anchor, mount, endorsement, law, row, ferryboat, back, defense, backen, bak, crate, and bottle.

See also: Back, bäck, and back-

English

Pronunciation

Etymology 1

From Middle English bak, from Old English bæc, from Proto-West Germanic *bak, from Proto-Germanic *baką, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *bʰogo (literally bending). The adverb represents an aphetic form of aback.

Compare Middle Low German bak (back), from Old Saxon bak, and West Frisian bekling (chair back), Old High German bah, Swedish and Norwegian bak. Cognate with German Bache (sow [adult female hog]).

Adjective

back (not generally comparable, comparative more back, superlative most back)

  1. At or near the rear.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 19, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      Nothing was too small to receive attention, if a supervising eye could suggest improvements likely to conduce to the common welfare. Mr. Gordon Burnage, for instance, personally visited dust-bins and back premises, accompanied by a sort of village bailiff, going his round like a commanding officer doing billets.
    Go in the back door of the house.
  2. (predicative) Returned or restored to a previous place or condition.
    He was on vacation, but now he’s back.
    The office fell into chaos when you left, but now order is back.
  3. Not current.
    I’d like to find a back issue of that magazine.
  4. Situated away from the main or most frequented areas.
    They took a back road.
    He lives out in the back country.
  5. In arrears; overdue.
    They still owe three months' back rent.
  6. Moving or operating backward.
    back action
  7. (comparable, phonetics) Pronounced with the highest part of the body of the tongue toward the back of the mouth, near the soft palate (most often describing a vowel).
    The vowel of lot has a back vowel in most dialects of England.
    • Phonetics definition
      The study of the physical sounds of human speech, concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds (phones), and the processes of their physiological production, auditory reception, and neurophysiological perception, and their representation by written symbols.
    • Soft Palate definition
      The soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth.
Usage notes

In linguistic use describing the position of the tongue, the comparative backer and superlative backest are usual; these may also be occasionally found for other senses, especially informally.

Synonyms
Antonyms
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.
See also

Adverb

back (comparative further back, superlative furthest back)

  1. (not comparable) To or in a previous condition or place.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, in The Celebrity:
      We drove back to the office with some concern on my part at the prospect of so large a case. Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke. He was dressed out in broad gaiters and bright tweeds, like an English tourist, and his face might have belonged to Dagon, idol of the Philistines.
    • 2013 June 8, “The new masters and commanders”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 52:
      From the ground, Colombo’s port does not look like much. Those entering it are greeted by wire fences, walls dating back to colonial times and security posts. For mariners leaving the port after lonely nights on the high seas, the delights of the B52 Night Club and Stallion Pub lie a stumble away.
    He gave back the money.
    I left my mobile phone back at the hotel. I'll have to go back and get it.
  2. In a direction opposite to that in which someone or something is facing or normally pointing.
    Someone pushed me in the chest and I fell back.
    The grandfather clock toppled back and crashed to the ground.
    Her arm was bent back at an odd angle.
  3. In a direction opposite to the usual or desired direction of movement or progress, physically or figuratively.
    Wind the film back a few frames.
    Don't forget to put the clocks back by one hour tonight!
    This mishap has set the project back considerably.
  4. So as to reverse direction and return.
    The light bounces back off the mirror.
  5. Towards, into or in the past.
    These records go back years.
    He built a time machine and travelled back to 1800.
    Think back to how you felt last year.
    Everything was simpler back in the old days.
  6. Away from someone or something; at a distance.
    Keep back! It could explode at any moment!
  7. Away from the front or from an edge.
    Sit all the way back in your chair.
    Step back from the curb.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path […]. It twisted and turned, [] and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn. And, back of the lawn, was a big, old-fashioned house, with piazzas stretching in front of it, and all blazing with lights. 'Twas the house I'd seen the roof of from the beach.
  8. So as shrink, recede or move aside, or cause to do so.
    This tree is dying back.
    Clear back all this vegetation.
    Draw back the curtains and let in some light.
  9. In a manner that impedes.
    Fear held him back.
    • Impede definition
      To get in the way of; to hinder.
  10. (not comparable) In a reciprocal manner; in return.
    If you hurt me, I'll hurt you back.
  11. (postpositive) Earlier, ago.
    We met many years back.
    I last saw him a day or two back.
  12. To a later point in time. See also put back.
    The meeting has been moved back an hour. It was at 3 o'clock; now it's at 4 o'clock.
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Postposition

back

  1. Before now, ago
    • Woods, John (1822) Two Years' Residence in the Settlement on the English Prairie, in the Illinois Country, United States (in English), page 138: “Our road was chiefly through woods, and part of it lay through the Hurricane-track, that is where a strong wind, some years back, opened a passage through the woods for a mile in breadth...”

Noun

back (plural backs)

  1. The rear of the body, especially the part between the neck and the end of the spine and opposite the chest and belly.
    Could you please scratch my back?
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], OCLC 752825175:
      It was not far from the house; but the ground sank into a depression there, and the ridge of it behind shut out everything except just the roof of the tallest hayrick. As one sat on the sward behind the elm, with the back turned on the rick and nothing in front but the tall elms and the oaks in the other hedge, it was quite easy to fancy it the verge of the prairie with the backwoods close by.
    1. The spine and associated tissues.
      I hurt my back lifting those crates.
    2. (slang, uncountable) Large and attractive buttocks.
    3. (figuratively) The part of a piece of clothing which covers the back.
      I still need to finish the back of your dress.
    4. The backrest, the part of a piece of furniture which receives the human back.
      Can you fix the back of this chair?
    5. (obsolete) That part of the body that bears clothing. (Now used only in the phrase clothes on one's back.)
  2. That which is farthest away from the front.
    He sat in the back of the room.
    1. The side of any object which is opposite the front or useful side.
      Turn the book over and look at the back.
      1. The edge of a book which is bound.
        The titles are printed on the backs of the books.
      2. (printing) The inside margin of a page.
        • 1841, William Savage, A Dictionary of the Art of Printing, 1965 Ayer Publishing ed. edition, →ISBN, page 472:
          Convenience and custom have familiarised us to the printed page being a little higher than the middle of the leaf, and to its having a little more margin at the fore edge than in the back.
      3. The side of a blade opposite the side used for cutting.
        Tap it with the back of your knife.
    2. The reverse side; the side that is not normally seen.
      I hung the clothes on the back of the door.
    3. Area behind, such as the backyard of a house.
      We'll meet out in the back of the library.
    4. The part of something that goes last.
      The car was near the back of the train.
    5. (sports) In some team sports, a position behind most players on the team.
      The backs were lined up in an I formation.
      • 2010 December 28, Kevin Darlin, “West Brom 1-3 Blackburn”, in BBC:
        [] Rovers were also aided by some poor defending from West Brom, whose lapses at the back undid their excellent work on the ball and condemned Roberto di Matteo's Baggies side to a third straight defeat.
    • Farthest definition
      Alternative form of furthest. (See also usage notes at further.)
    • Front definition
      The foremost side of something or the end that faces the direction it normally moves. (1 of 19 front definitions)
  3. (figuratively) Upper part of a natural object which is considered to resemble an animal's back.
    The small boat raced over the backs of the waves.
  4. A support or resource in reserve.
  5. (nautical) The keel and keelson of a ship.
    The ship's back broke in the pounding surf.
    • Keelson definition
      A longitudinal beam fastened on top of the keel of a vessel for strength and stiffness.
  6. (mining) The roof of a horizontal underground passage.
    • 1911, Robert Bruce Brinsmade, Mining Without Timber, page 161:
      The stope is kept full of broken ore, sufficient only being drawn to leave a working space between the floor of broken ore and the back of the stope.
    • Mining definition
      The activity of removing solid valuables from the earth. (1 of 4 mining definitions)
  7. (slang, uncountable) Effort, usually physical.
    Put some back into it!
  8. A non-alcoholic drink (often water or a soft drink), to go with hard liquor or a cocktail.
    Could I get a martini with a water back?
  9. Among leather dealers, one of the thickest and stoutest tanned hides.
    • 1848, Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Maine Reports (volume 6, page 397)
      [] as delivered by a tanner the average weight of a back and two strips would be about 42 pounds [].
  10. (swimming) Clipping of backstroke.
Synonyms
  • (side opposite the visible side): reverse
  • (rear of the body): dorsum
Hyponyms
Antonyms
Coordinate terms
Derived terms
Related terms
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb

back (third-person singular simple present backs, present participle backing, simple past and past participle backed)

  1. (intransitive) To go in the reverse direction.
    the train backed into the station;  the horse refuses to back
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Thinks I to myself, “Sol, you're run off your course again. This is a rich man's summer ‘cottage’ [].” So I started to back away again into the bushes. But I hadn't backed more'n a couple of yards when I see something so amazing that I couldn't help scooching down behind the bayberries and looking at it.
    • Direction definition
      A theoretical line (physically or mentally) followed from a point of origin or towards a destination. May be relative (e.g. up, left, outbound, dorsal), geographical (e.g. north), rotational (e.g. clockwise), or with respect to an object or location (e.g. toward Boston). (1 of 6 direction definitions)
  2. (transitive) To support.
    I back you all the way;  which horse are you backing in this race?
    • 2012 June 9, Owen Phillips, “Euro 2012: Netherlands 0-1 Denmark”, in BBC Sport:
      And Netherlands, backed by a typically noisy and colourful travelling support, started the second period in blistering fashion and could have had four goals within 10 minutes
  3. (nautical, of the wind) To change direction contrary to the normal pattern; that is, to shift anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere, or clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
    • Anticlockwise definition
      in a circular fashion so as to be moving to the left at the top of the circle and to the right at the bottom (when viewed from the front), in the opposite direction to the way the hands of an analogue clock move.
  4. (nautical, of a square sail) To brace the yards so that the wind presses on the front of the sail, to slow the ship.
  5. (nautical, of an anchor) To lay out a second, smaller anchor to provide additional holding power.
    • Anchor definition
      A tool used to moor a vessel to the bottom of a sea or river to resist movement. (1 of 19 anchor definitions)
  6. (Britain, of a hunting dog) To stand still behind another dog which has pointed.
  7. (transitive) To push or force backwards.
    to back oxen
    The mugger backed her into a corner and demanded her wallet.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To get upon the back of; to mount.
  9. (transitive, obsolete) To place or seat upon the back.
  10. To make a back for; to furnish with a back.
    to back books
  11. To adjoin behind; to be at the back of.
    • c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “Measvre for Measure”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i]:
      He hath a garden circummured with brick,
      Whose western side is with a vineyard backed
    • 1877, Thomas Henry Huxley, Physiography: An Introduction to the Study of Nature
      the chalk cliffs which back the beach
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 731476803:
      So this was my future home, I thought! [] Backed by towering hills, the but faintly discernible purple line of the French boundary off to the southwest, a sky of palest Gobelin flecked with fat, fleecy little clouds, it in truth looked a dear little city; the city of one's dreams.
  12. To write upon the back of, possibly as an endorsement.
    to back a letter;  to back a note or legal document
  13. (law, of a justice of the peace) To sign or endorse (a warrant, issued in another county, to apprehend an offender).
  14. To row backward with (oars).
    to back the oars
    • Row definition
      A line of objects, often regularly spaced, such as seats in a theatre, vegetable plants in a garden etc. (1 of 2 row definitions)
Antonyms
  • (nautical: of the wind): veer
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Derived terms

Terms derived from the adjective, adverb, noun, or verb back
 

Etymology 2

Borrowed from French bac.

Noun

back (plural backs)

  1. A large shallow vat; a cistern, tub, or trough, used by brewers, distillers, dyers, picklers, gluemakers, and others, for mixing or cooling wort, holding water, hot glue, etc.
  2. A ferryboat.
Translations

Czech

Alternative forms

Etymology

Borrowed from English back.

Pronunciation

Noun

back m anim

  1. (sports, obsolete) back
    • 1904, František K. Hejda; et al., Praha ve dne v noci: zajímavosti a zvláštnosti ze źivota staré a nové Prahy[1], volume 1, P. Körber, page 70:
      Forward útočí na branku nepřátel podporován jsa zálohou, a backové s brankářem proti tomu mají čeliti útokům forwardu nepřátelského.
      Forward line attack the opponent's goal, being supported by midfielders, and backs with the goalkeeper are supposed to face the attacks of the opponent's forward line.
    • 1997, Kronika českého fotbalu[2], volume 1, page 196:
      Sparta má proslulý forward, a ten tak uvykl na svou proslulost, že se nesnaží ani trainovat, že opovrhuje běháním, že se spoléhá na znamenitou, ale pomalou kombinaci, že vlastně už zapomněl běhat, chodit mezi backy a vystavovat se nebezpečí, že svůj goal zaplatí snad nějakým tím klepnutím do choulostivých končetin.
      Sparta has a renowned forward line, which got used to its fame so much, that they do not take pains to train, despise running, rely on excellent but slow combination, that they forgot how to run, go among the backs and put themselves in danger of being hit into sensitive limbs.

Declension

Synonyms

Antonyms

Noun

back m inan

  1. (sports, rare) defense
    • 1986, Vladimír Valenta, Power play[3], Polygon:
      Na backu všechno odřeme, to křídlo, to je jiný: chrápe na modrý čáře a čeká, až mu to někdo bouchne.
      In the defense we do all the hard work, while the wing is different: they snore at the blue line and wait until somebody passes it to them.

Declension

Synonyms

Antonyms

Further reading

  • back in Příruční slovník jazyka českého, 1935–1957
  • back in Slovník spisovného jazyka českého, 1960–1971, 1989

French

Etymology

From English back

Pronunciation

Adverb

back

  1. (Louisiana, Cajun French, Acadian) back
    Dis trois je vous salue Marie, et je veux point te voir icitte back à voler du plywood. — “Say three hail Maries, and I don't want to see you back here stealing plywood.”

German

Pronunciation

Verb

back

  1. singular imperative of backen
  2. (colloquial) first-person singular present of backen

Middle English

Noun

back

  1. Alternative form of bak (back)
    • Bak definition
      Abbreviation of back.

Swedish

Etymology

From English back

Pronunciation

Noun

back c

  1. crate; storage of bottles
    • Bottle definition
      A container, typically made of glass or plastic and having a tapered neck, used primarily for holding liquids. (1 of 8 bottle definitions)
  2. back; position behind most players on the team
  3. reverse; car gear

Declension

Declension of back 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative back backen backar backarna
Genitive backs backens backars backarnas