• "He gave me back the half-crown."
    "He gave me back the half-crown."
  • WordNet 3.6
    • adj back located at or near the back of an animal "back (or hind) legs","the hinder part of a carcass"
    • adj back related to or located at the back "the back yard","the back entrance"
    • adj back of an earlier date "back issues of the magazine"
    • adv back in or to or toward a past time "set the clocks back an hour","never look back","lovers of the past looking fondly backward"
    • adv back at or to or toward the back or rear "he moved back","tripped when he stepped backward","she looked rearward out the window of the car"
    • adv back in repayment or retaliation "we paid back everything we had borrowed","he hit me and I hit him back","I was kept in after school for talking back to the teacher"
    • adv back in or to or toward a former location "she went back to her parents' house"
    • adv back in or to or toward an original condition "he went back to sleep"
    • adv back in reply "he wrote back three days later"
    • v back strengthen by providing with a back or backing
    • v back establish as valid or genuine "Can you back up your claims?"
    • v back shift to a counterclockwise direction "the wind backed"
    • v back place a bet on "Which horse are you backing?","I'm betting on the new horse"
    • v back travel backward "back into the driveway","The car backed up and hit the tree"
    • v back cause to travel backward "back the car into the parking spot"
    • v back support financial backing for "back this enterprise"
    • v back be behind; approve of "He plumped for the Labor Party","I backed Kennedy in 1960"
    • v back give support or one's approval to "I'll second that motion","I can't back this plan","endorse a new project"
    • v back be in back of "My garage backs their yard"
    • n back (American football) the position of a player on a football team who is stationed behind the line of scrimmage
    • n back a support that you can lean against while sitting "the back of the dental chair was adjustable"
    • n back the part of a garment that covers the back of your body "they pinned a `kick me' sign on his back"
    • n back the protective covering on the front, back, and spine of a book "the book had a leather binding"
    • n back the side that goes last or is not normally seen "he wrote the date on the back of the photograph"
    • n back the posterior part of a human (or animal) body from the neck to the end of the spine "his back was nicely tanned"
    • n back the series of vertebrae forming the axis of the skeleton and protecting the spinal cord "the fall broke his back"
    • n back the part of something that is furthest from the normal viewer "he stood at the back of the stage","it was hidden in the rear of the store"
    • n back (football) a person who plays in the backfield
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

"The robin came back with a worm." "The robin came back with a worm."
Bench made with Pinned Mortise-and-Tenon Joints, Low Back Bench made with Pinned Mortise-and-Tenon Joints, Low Back
Back of Steel Square, Brace Measure Back of Steel Square, Brace Measure
Back of Steel Square, Essex Board Measure Back of Steel Square, Essex Board Measure
Construction of a Knock-Down Book-Shelf Seen From the Back Construction of a Knock-Down Book-Shelf Seen From the Back
Slipped It Down the Back of Dad's Pants 057 Slipped It Down the Back of Dad's Pants 057
A Cossack Rode Right up to Him and Lashed Him over The Back 258 A Cossack Rode Right up to Him and Lashed Him over The Back 258
Josiah turned his back on me Josiah turned his back on me

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Back in 1919, the Russian transplant pioneer Serge Voronoff made headlines by grafting monkey testicles onto human males.
    • Back A ferryboat. See Bac, 1.
    • Back A garment for the back; hence, clothing. "A bak to walken inne by daylight."
    • Back 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.
    • Back A support or resource in reserve. "This project
      Should have a back or second, that might hold,
      If this should blast in proof."
    • Back An extended upper part, as of a mountain or ridge. "The mountains] their broad bare backs upheave
      Into the clouds."
    • Back Away from contact; by reverse movement. "The angel of the Lord . . . came, and rolled back the stone from the door."
    • Back Being at the back or in the rear; distant; remote; as, the back door; back settlements.
    • Back Being in arrear; overdue; as, back rent.
    • Back In a state of restraint or hindrance. "The Lord hath kept thee back from honor."
    • Back In arrear; as, to be back in one's rent.
    • Back In concealment or reserve; in one's own possession; as, to keep back the truth; to keep back part of the money due to another.
    • Back In human beings, the hinder part of the body, extending from the neck to the end of the spine; in other animals, that part of the body which corresponds most nearly to such part of a human being; as, the back of a horse, fish, or lobster.
    • Back In return, repayment, or requital. "What have I to give you back ?"
    • Back In withdrawal from a statement, promise, or undertaking; as, he took back the offensive words.
    • Back In, to, or toward, the rear; as, to stand back; to step back .
    • Back Moving or operating backward; as, back action.
    • Back Of time) In times past; ago. "Sixty or seventy years back ."
    • Back (Naut) The keel and keelson of a ship.
    • Back The outward or upper part of a thing, as opposed to the inner or lower part; as, the back of the hand, the back of the foot, the back of a hand rail. "Methought Love pitying me, when he saw this,
      Gave me your hands, the backs and palms to kiss."
    • Back The part of a cutting tool on the opposite side from its edge; as, the back of a knife, or of a saw.
    • Back The part opposed to the front; the hinder or rear part of a thing; as, the back of a book; the back of an army; the back of a chimney.
    • Back The part opposite to, or most remote from, that which fronts the speaker or actor; or the part out of sight, or not generally seen; as, the back of an island, of a hill, or of a village.
    • Back (Mining) The upper part of a lode, or the roof of a horizontal underground passage.
    • Back To a former state, condition, or station; as, to go back to private life; to go back to barbarism.
    • Back To adjoin behind; to be at the back of. "A garden . . . with a vineyard backed .""The chalk cliffs which back the beach."
    • Back To bet on the success of; -- as, to back a race horse.
    • Back (Naut) To change from one quarter to another by a course opposite to that of the sun; -- used of the wind.
    • Back To drive or force backward; to cause to retreat or recede; as, to back oxen.
    • Back To get upon the back of; to mount. "I will back him [a horse] straight."
    • Back To make a back for; to furnish with a back; as, to back books.
    • Back To move or go backward; as, the horse refuses to back .
    • Back To place or seat upon the back. "Great Jupiter, upon his eagle backed ,
      Appeared to me."
    • Back (Sporting) To stand still behind another dog which has pointed; -- said of a dog. "Cleon at first . . . was willing to go; but, finding that he [Nicias] was in earnest, he tried to back out ."
    • Back To support; to maintain; to second or strengthen by aid or influence; as, to back a friend. "The Parliament would be backed by the people.""Have still found it necessary to back and fortify their laws with rewards and punishments.""The mate backed the captain manfully."
    • Back To the place from which one came; to the place or person from which something is taken or derived; as, to go back for something left behind; to go back to one's native place; to put a book back after reading it.
    • Back To write upon the back of; as, to back a letter; to indorse; as, to back a note or legal document.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: In Kentucky, it is illegal to carry ice cream in your back pocket
    • n back The whole hinder part of the human body, opposite the front and between the sides, or the upper part of the body of most animals; technically, the spinal, dorsal, or tergal portion, surface, or aspect of the trunk, extending from the scruff of the neck between the shoulders to the buttocks, hams, or bifurcation of the body at the legs; the tergum; the dorsum; the notæum.
    • n back The corresponding or related portion of any part or organ of the body; the posterior aspect of a thing; the part opposite to or furthest from the front, or in any way correlated with the back of the trunk: as, the back of the head, neck, arm, leg; the back of the hand; the back of the mouth.
    • n back Anything resembling the back in position. As being behind or furthest from the face or front, like the back in man: as, the back of a house.
    • n back As being behind, or in the furthest distance, with reference to the spectator, speaker, scene of action, etc.: as, the back of an island; the back of a wood; the back of a village.
    • n back As being the part which comes behind in the ordinary movements of a thing, or when it is used: as, the back of a knife, saw, etc.
    • n back As forming the upper, and especially the outer and upper, portion of a thing, like the back of one of the lower animals: as, the back of a hand-rail; the back of a rafter.
    • n back The ridge of a hill.
    • n back As being that which supports the ribs: as, the back of a ship (namely, the keel and keelson). See broken-backed. The upright hind part of a chair, serving as a support for the back. In botany, the outer side of an organ, or the side turned away from the axis: as, the back of a leaf or of a carpel.
    • n back By synecdoche, the whole body, with reference to clothing, because the back is usually most fully covered: as, he has not clothes to his back.
    • n back Clothing; a garment to cover the back.
    • n back plural In the leather trade, the thickest and best-tanned hides.
    • n back The address of a letter, formerly written on the back of the letter itself.
    • n back A reserve or secondary resource.
    • n back In ship-building, a timber bolted on the after end of the rudder, to complete its form.
    • n back In metal-mining, the portion of the lode which lies between any level or stope and the one next above it, or the surface. Generally, the backs are the unstoped portions of the lode, as far as laid open, and ready to be mined or stoped.
    • n back In coal-mining: Same as face. The inner end of a heading where work is going on.
    • n back In foot-ball, a position behind the line of rushers, or a player in this position: called quarter-back, half-back, three-quarters-back, or full-back, according to the distance from the rushers.
    • back Lying or being behind; opposite to the front; hinder; rear: as, the back part of anything; a back door or window; back stairs; the back side of a field.
    • back Hence Away from the front position or rank; remote in place or condition; far in the rear, literally or figuratively: as, the back settlements of a country.
    • back In a backward direction; returning in the direction whence it came: as, a back stroke; back water.
    • back In arrear; overdue: as, back pay or rents.
    • back To or toward the rear; backward; in the reverse direction: as, to step or shrink back; the tide flowed back.
    • back From forward motion or progress; from advancing or advancement; in a state of restraint, hindrance, or retardation: with such verbs as keep and hold: as, he was held back with difficulty; the police kept back the crowd.
    • back To or toward one's (its or their) original starting-point, place, or condition: as, to go back to the city, to one's old occupation, to one's former belief.
    • back From a present, usual, or natural position; in a direction opposite to some other, expressed or understood; backward: as, to bend back one's finger; to force back the bolt of a door.
    • back To or toward times or things past; backward in time: as, to look back on former ages.
    • back From the proper destination or purpose: as, to keep back despatches.
    • back Away from an undertaking, engagement, or promise.
    • back In a position of retirement or withdrawal; off; aloof: absolutely or with from: as, the house stands a little back from the road.
    • back Behind in position, literally or figuratively, or as regards progress made: absolutely or with of: as, the hills back of the town; the feeling back of his words; a few pages back.
    • back Past in time; ago; since: as, a little back.
    • back Again; in return: as, to answer back; to pay back a loan.
    • back See the verbs.
    • back To furnish with a back or backing; strengthen or support at the back: as, to back a book; to back an electrotype-plate; to back the armor-plates of a war-vessel with teak.
    • back To cover the back of; clothe.
    • back To support or aid, as with practical assistance, money, authority, influence, etc.; second or strengthen; reinforce: often with up: as, in his efforts he was backed by many influential men; he backed up his argument with a bet.
    • back Hence In sporting, to recognize and support by standing or dropping: said of dogs which follow the lead of a dog on point.
    • back To act or wager in favor of; express confidence in the success or superiority of: as, to back a horse in a race, or one of the parties in an argument.
    • back To get upon the back of; mount: as, to back a horse.
    • back To write something on the back of; address, as a letter; indorse.
    • back To lie at the back of; adjoin in the rear; form a back or background to.
    • back To carry on the back.
    • back To cause to move backward; propel backward: as, to back a horse; to back a boat.
    • back To reverse the action of: as, to back a stationary engine.
    • back In coal-mining, to throw back into the gob or waste, as the small slack made in holing or undercutting the coal.
    • back To move or force backward: as, to back up a carriage.
    • back To reverse, as an engine or a press.
    • back In electrotyping, to strengthen, as the thin shell or electroplate obtained from a wax mold of a form of type, an engraved plate, etc., by depositing upon its back type-metal to a certain thickness.
    • back In base-ball and similar games, to stand behind, as another player, in order to stop and return any balls that may pass him: as, the center-field backs up the second-base.
    • back To move or go backward: as, the horse backed; the train backed.
    • back To move in the reverse direction: said specifically of the wind, in contradistinction to haul (which see), when it changes in a manner contrary to the usual circuit. In the northern hemisphere, on the polar side of the trade-winds, the usual circuit of changes in the wind is from east by the south to west, and so on to the north. In the same latitudes in the southern hemisphere the reverse usually takes place. The backing of the wind is regarded as an indication of bad weather.
    • back To be vacillating or irresolute; shilly-shally.
    • n back The earlier form of bat.
    • n back A large flat-bottomed ferry-boat, especially one adapted for carrying vehicles, and worked by a chain or rope fastened on each side of the stream.
    • n back A large cistern or vat used by brewers, distillers, dyers, etc., for holding liquids; a large tub or trough.
    • n back A kind of wooden trough for holding or carrying fuel, ashes, etc.; a coal-scuttle: commonly in the diminutive form bakey.
    • n back A change in the direction of the wind in the order east, north, west, and south—that is, against the sun or against the hands of a watch.
    • n back In mining, a cleavage-plane: one of the main joints, vertical or nearly so, by which strata are intersected.
    • back In phonology, formed at the back of the mouth by raising or lowering the posterior part, or back, of the tongue.
    • back From the beginning, or from early times; hence, with systematic thoroughness: as, he explained the whole thing from way back.
    • back In building: To complete at the back or rear by building or by covering or finishing something: often used with up.
    • back To finish at the back by cutting off, trimming, or smoothing: sometimes used with off.
    • back To give a new back to (as a wall), by cutting away some part of the material: generally used with off.
    • back To move (coal) along the working-face to the haulage road.
    • back To provide (a bow) with a back made of a separate piece or of different material from that of the belly.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Back in 1796, dimes were called dismes
    • n Back bak a brewer's or dyer's tub or trough.
    • n Back bak the hinder part of the body in man, and the upper part in beasts, extending from the neck and shoulders to the extremity of the backbone: put for the whole body in speaking of clothes: the hinder part, or the part opposite to the front side: the convex part of a book, opposite to the opening of the leaves: the thick edge of a knife or the like: the upright hind part of a chair: the surface of the sea, or of a river: the keel and keelson of a ship: :
    • adv Back to the place from which one came: to a former state or condition: behind: behind in time: in return: again
    • v.t Back to get upon the back of: to help, as if standing at one's back: to force back: to support one's opinion by a wager or bet—'to back a horse,' to bet money on his winning in a race, 'to back the field,' to bet upon all the horses in a field, against one in particular: to countersign a warrant, or indorse a cheque or bill; to write or print at the back of, as a parliamentary bill, or the like: to put or propel backward, or in the opposite direction, by reversing the action, as of an engine or a boat—hence the phrases, To back the oars, To back water
    • v.i Back to move or go back
    • adj Back secret or underhand
    • v.t Back to affect with back-wash: to clean the oil from wool after combing
    • n Back bak (football) one of the players stationed behind the 'forwards,' the full back's duty being merely to guard the goal
    • n Back bak (mining) that side of an inclined mineral lode which is nearest the surface of the ground—the back of a level is the ground between it and the level above
    • ***


  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “If Columbus had turned back, no one would have blamed him. Of course, no one would have remembered him either.”
  • John Pierpont Morgan
    John Pierpont Morgan
    “You can't pick cherries with your back to the tree.”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “Don't look back, just keep on walking.”
  • Samuel Ullman
    Samuel Ullman
    “Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.”
  • Edward Koch
    Edward Koch
    “You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it's good for ones self-respect to be a punching bag.”
  • William M. Thackeray
    “The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.”


Back burner - If an issue is on the back burner, it is being given low priority.
Back foot - (UK) If you are on your back foot, you are at a disadvantage and forced to be defensive of your position.
Back number - Something that's a back number is dated or out of fashion.
Back the wrong horse - If you back the wrong horse, you give your support to the losing side in something.
Back to back - If things happen back to back, they are directly one after another.
Back to square one - If you are back to square one, you have to start from the beginning again.
Back to the drawing board - If you have to go back to the drawing board, you have to go back to the beginning and start something again.
Back to the salt mines - If someone says they have to go back to the salt mines, they have to return, possibly unwillingly, to work.
Back to the wall - If you have your back to the wall, you are in a difficult situation with very little room for manoeuvre.
Be on the pig's back - If you're on the pig's back, you're happy / content / in fine form.
Behind someone's back - If you do something behind someone's back, you do it without telling them.
Break the back of the beast - If you break the back of the beast, you accomplish a challenge.
By the back door - If something is started or introduced by the back door, then it is not done openly or by following the proper procedures.
Cast your mind back - If somebody tells you to cast your mind back on something, they want you to think about something that happened in the past, but which you might not remember very well, and to try to remember as much as possible.
Fall off the back of a lorry - (UK) If someone tries to sell you something that has fallen of the back of a lorry, they are trying to sell you stolen goods.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
AS. bæc, bac,; akin to Icel., Sw., & LG. bak, Dan. bag,; cf. OHG. bahho, ham, Skr. bhaj, to turn, OSlav. bēgŭ, flight. Cf. Bacon
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. bæc, Sw. bak, Dan. bag.


In literature:

When Little Jim was five, the Mannings had come back to Exham, with the hope of somehow, sometime, buying back the old farm.
"Still Jim" by Honoré Willsie Morrow
She would have followed him back upon the bridge, but the steward intercepted her.
"Blow The Man Down" by Holman Day
I stayed dere a year, then I went back to Mississippi and worked.
"Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4" by Work Projects Administration
Joe half closed his eyes and leaned back against the cushion like an old cat getting her back scratched.
"Stubble" by George Looms
Jason Philip got up, clasped his hands behind his back, and began to walk back and forth.
"The Goose Man" by Jacob Wassermann
A heavy saddle was thrown on Pasha's back, the girths pulled cruelly tight, and in a moment "Mars" Clayton was on his back.
"Children's Literature" by Charles Madison Curry
Being back to back with Kate, he could keep his countenance.
"The Manxman A Novel - 1895" by Hall Caine
She wants him back; if there's any way of getting him back, she must have him.
"The Kingdom Round the Corner" by Coningsby Dawson
I went back to Brookline soon after that to send in the story and do some telephoning.
"The Fire People" by Ray Cummings
Gingerly Iowa reached out with his foot and shoved the chair back to the wall, and turning, backed into it and sat down.
"The Young Railroaders" by Francis Lovell Coombs

In poetry:

He's got no gal,
He's got no jack,
No fancy silk shirts
For his back.
"Mose" by Sterling A Brown
I bore the heat,
I blazed the track-
furrowed and bloody
upon my back.
"Old Botany Bay" by Dame Mary Gilmore DBE
Eyes, nose and ears,
A clear
Cellophane I cannot crack.
On my bare back
"Paralytic" by Sylvia Plath
Tiniest of turtles!
Your shining back
Is a shell of orange
With spots of black.
"The Ladybird" by Clive Sansom
And one with a hide
Like a patched-on sack
And two creels of turf
Upon its back;
"Asses" by Padraic Colum
Brief! but in them,
From eve back to morn,
Some find the gem,
Many find the thorn.
""To-Days"" by Abram Joseph Ryan

In news:

So last week when I was flying back from Oregon on an airline, which shall remain nameless, (United) there were a number of empty seats on the plane, both in front and in back of me.
The Faces of the World film festival presents two back-to-back Saturday travel documentary matinees at the Redwood Theater in Brookings.
These PINK lady slippers, (Not Showy) were found back in our swamp way back out in the woods.
Pius X might have back-to-back state titles, but it has yet to win a district tournament championship.
Tony is not "falling back" just because we turn our clocks back this weekend.
Patented is an adhesive tape comprising a backing and a layer of adhesive on the backing.
But, when I heard The Great Divide (TGD) was back together, with Mike McClure back on lead vocals I felt like a kid in a candy store with a fist full of birthday cash.
If your closet is a narrow walk-in, place double hang clothing across the back, which visually brings the back wall forward and relieves the tunnel effect of a narrow closet.
Chiefs' Charles right back at it as league's best big-play back.
He says that when panels are primed in the factory, some primer ends up on the back of the boards as they pass over the rollers, but this isn't a half-hearted attempt at priming the backs.
The Privateers hit over.300 in back-to-back matches for the first time since 2009 to open the streak with home wins over Alcorn State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, before heading out on the road to top Southern in four sets.
Occupy movement protesters march through Uptown Charlotte, where the Democratic National Convention is being held, chanting "Money out of politics" and "They say cut back, we say fight back.
Among mainline Protestants , 44 percent back Romney and 28 percent back Obama.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's presidential council on Wednesday rejected a draft provincial elections law and sent it back to parliament for reworking — a major blow to hopes that the U.S.-backed vote can be held this year.
Southern's Jags push forward with back-to-back wins.

In science:

The coherent pull-back of I along ˜X → X is invertible and the latter morphism is universal for that property: any morphism from a scheme to X for which coherent pull-back of I is invertible factorizes over ˜X .
Compactifications defined by arrangements I: the ball quotient case
The signal is subsequently reversed in time and reemitted back into the medium; that is, the part of the signal that was recorded last is sent back first.
Time Reversal for Classical Waves in Random Media
In other words, the 0-truncation of RM gives back M when restricted to the image of j , while its 1-truncation gives back M1 .
From HAG to DAG: derived moduli spaces
Then the pul l-back of f ∗D + R under some birational contraction g : X ′ → X has a Zariski decomposition in Fujita sense if and only if this decomposition exists for the pul l-back of D under some birational contraction h : Z ′ → Z .
On Zariski decomposition problem
Using these isometries we can take two copies of our initial manifold, excise the balls |µ| > µ0 and glue the two remaining parts ‘back to back’ along the two boundaries µ = µ0 and µ = −µ0 .
Close encounters of black holes