back
Pronunciation
  • (RP, GA) IPA: /bæk/, [bæk], [bak], [-k̚], [-ˀk]
  • (Scouse) IPA: [bax]
Adjective

back (not comparable)

  1. Near the rear.
    Go in the back door of the house.
  2. Not current.
    I’d like to find a back issue of that magazine.
  3. Far from the main area.
    They took a back road.
  4. In arrear; overdue.
    They still owe three months' back rent.
  5. Moving or operating backward.
    back action
  6. (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 smallcaps lot has a back vowel in most dialects of England.
Synonyms Antonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations Adverb

back (comparative further back, superlative furthest back)

  1. (not comparable) To or in a previous condition or place.
    He gave back the money.   He needs his money back.   He was on vacation, but now he’s back.   The office fell into chaos when you left, but now order is back.
  2. Away from the front or from an edge.
    Sit all the way back in your chair.
    Step back from the curb.
  3. In a manner that impedes.
    Fear held him back.
  4. (not comparable) In a reciprocal manner; in return.
    If you hurt me, I'll hurt you back.
  5. Earlier, ago.
    We met many years back.
    I last saw him a day or two back.
Translations Translations
  • Italian: indietro
  • Portuguese: para trás
  • Russian: наза́д
  • Spanish: atrás
Translations
  • Portuguese: para trás
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. (figurative) 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.
      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.
  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.
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act IV, scene vii]:
      This project / Should have a back or second, that might hold, / If this should blast in proof.
  5. (nautical) The keel and keelson of a ship.
    The ship's back broke in the pounding surf.
  6. (mining) The roof of a horizontal underground passage.
  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 […].
Synonyms
  • (side opposite the visible side) reverse
  • (rear of the body) dorsum
Antonyms
  • (side opposite the front or useful side) front
  • (that which is farthest away from the front) front
Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Verb

back (backs, present participle backing; past and past participle backed)

  1. (intransitive) To go in the reverse direction.
    the train backed into the station;  the horse refuses to back
  2. (transitive) To support.
    I back you all the way;  which horse are you backing in this race?
  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.
  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.
  6. (UK, 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.
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act II, scene iii]:
      I will back him [a horse] straight.
  9. (transitive, obsolete) To place or seat upon the back.
    • 1611 April (first recorded performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Cymbeline”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act V, scene v]:
      Great Jupiter, upon his eagle backed, / Appeared to me.
  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: Printed by 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
    • 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. (legal, 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
Antonyms
  • (nautical: of the wind) veer
Translations
  • French: person reculer, (vehicle) arrière
  • German: vehicle zurücksetzen
  • Italian: indietreggiare, (vehicle) indietro
  • Portuguese: (of a vehicle) (Portuguese Portuguese) fazer marcha atrás, (Brazilian Portuguese) fazer marcha-à-ré
  • Russian: назад
  • Spanish: (vehicle) atrás, atrás, retroceder
Translations Translations
  • German: rückdrehen
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.



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