Meaning of BACK in English

BACK

I. ADVERB USES

/bæk/

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Note: In addition to the uses shown below, 'back' is also used in phrasal verbs such as ‘date back’ and ‘fall back on’.

Please look at category 17 to see if the expression you are looking for is shown under another headword.

1.

If you move back , you move in the opposite direction to the one in which you are facing or in which you were moving before.

The photographers drew back to let us view the body...

She stepped back from the door expectantly...

He pushed her away and she fell back on the wooden bench...

ADV : ADV after v , oft ADV prep

2.

If you go back somewhere, you return to where you were before.

I went back to bed...

I’m due back in London by late afternoon...

Smith changed his mind and moved back home...

I’ll be back as soon as I can...

He made a round-trip to the terminal and back.

ADV : ADV after v , be ADV , oft ADV prep / adv

3.

If someone or something is back in a particular state, they were in that state before and are now in it again.

The rail company said it expected services to get slowly back to normal...

Denise hopes to be back at work by the time her daughter is one...

ADV : ADV after v , be ADV , oft ADV prep

4.

If you give or put something back , you return it to the person who had it or to the place where it was before you took it. If you get or take something back , you then have it again after not having it for a while.

She handed the knife back...

Put it back in the freezer...

You’ll get your money back.

ADV : ADV after v , oft ADV prep

5.

If you put a clock or watch back , you change the time shown on it so that it shows an earlier time, for example when the time changes to winter time or standard time.

ADV : ADV after v

6.

If you write or call back , you write to or telephone someone after they have written to or telephoned you. If you look back at someone, you look at them after they have started looking at you.

They wrote back to me and they told me that I didn’t have to do it...

If the phone rings say you’ll call back after dinner...

Lee looked at Theodora. She stared back.

ADV : ADV after v , oft ADV prep

7.

You can say that you go or come back to a particular point in a conversation to show that you are mentioning or discussing it again.

Can I come back to the question of policing once again?...

Going back to the school, how many staff are there?

ADV : ADV after v , ADV to n

8.

If something is or comes back , it is fashionable again after it has been unfashionable for some time.

Short skirts are back...

Consensus politics could easily come back into fashion.

ADV : ADV after v , be ADV , oft ADV prep

9.

If someone or something is kept or situated back from a place, they are at a distance away from it.

Keep back from the edge of the platform...

I’m a few miles back from the border...

He started for Dot’s bedroom and Myrtle held him back.

ADV : ADV after v , be ADV , oft ADV from n

10.

If something is held or tied back , it is held or tied so that it does not hang loosely over something.

The curtains were held back by tassels.

ADV : ADV after v

11.

If you lie or sit back , you move your body backwards into a relaxed sloping or flat position, with your head and body resting on something.

She lay back and stared at the ceiling...

She leaned back in her chair and smiled.

≠ forward

ADV : ADV after v

12.

If you look or shout back at someone or something, you turn to look or shout at them when they are behind you.

Nick looked back over his shoulder and then stopped, frowning...

He called back to her.

ADV : ADV after v , oft ADV prep

13.

You use back in expressions like back in London or back at the house when you are giving an account, to show that you are going to start talking about what happened or was happening in the place you mention.

Meanwhile, back in London, Palace Pictures was collapsing...

Later, back at home, the telephone rang.

ADV : ADV with v , ADV prep

14.

If you talk about something that happened back in the past or several years back , you are emphasizing that it happened quite a long time ago.

The story starts back in 1950, when I was five...

He contributed £50m to the project a few years back.

ADV : ADV with v , ADV prep , n ADV [ emphasis ]

15.

If you think back to something that happened in the past, you remember it or try to remember it.

I thought back to the time in 1975 when my son was desperately ill...

ADV : ADV after v , ADV to n

16.

If someone moves back and forth , they repeatedly move in one direction and then in the opposite direction.

He paced back and forth...

PHRASE : PHR after v

17.

to cast your mind back: see mind

II. OPPOSITE OF FRONT; NOUN AND ADJECTIVE USES

/bæk/

( backs)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Please look at category 17 to see if the expression you are looking for is shown under another headword.

1.

A person’s or animal’s back is the part of their body between their head and their legs that is on the opposite side to their chest and stomach.

She turned her back to the audience...

Three of the victims were shot in the back...

N-COUNT : oft poss N

2.

The back of something is the side or part of it that is towards the rear or farthest from the front. The back of something is normally not used or seen as much as the front.

...a room at the back of the shop...

She raised her hands to the back of her neck...

Smooth the mixture with the back of a soup spoon...

≠ front

N-COUNT : usu sing , oft the N of n

3.

Back is used to refer to the side or part of something that is towards the rear or farthest from the front.

He opened the back door...

Ann could remember sitting in the back seat of their car.

...the path leading to the back garden.

≠ front

ADJ : ADJ n

4.

The back of a chair or sofa is the part that you lean against when you sit on it.

There was a neatly folded pink sweater on the back of the chair.

N-COUNT : usu sing , with supp

5.

The back of something such as a piece of paper or an envelope is the side which is less important.

Send your answers on the back of a postcard.

≠ front

N-COUNT : the N , usu sing

6.

The back of a book is the part nearest the end, where you can find the index or the notes, for example.

...the index at the back of the book...

≠ front

N-COUNT : the N , usu sing

7.

You can use back in expressions such as round the back and out the back to refer generally to the area behind a house or other building. ( BRIT SPOKEN )

He had chickens and things round the back...

N-SING : prep the N

8.

You use back in expressions such as out back to refer to the area behind a house or other building. You also use in back to refer to the rear part of something, especially a car or building. ( AM )

Dan informed her that he would be out back on the patio cleaning his shoes...

Catlett got behind the wheel and I sat in back...

N-UNCOUNT : prep N , oft N of n

9.

In team games such as football and hockey, a back is a player who is concerned mainly with preventing the other team from scoring goals, rather than scoring goals for their own team.

= defender

≠ forward

N-COUNT

10.

In American football, a back is a player who stands behind the front line, runs with the ball and attacks rather than defends.

N-COUNT

11.

If you say that something was done behind someone’s back , you disapprove of it because it was done without them knowing about it, in an unfair or dishonest way.

You eat her food, enjoy her hospitality and then criticize her behind her back.

PHRASE : PHR after v [ disapproval ]

12.

If you break the back of a task or problem, you do the most difficult part of what is necessary to complete the task or solve the problem.

It seems at least that we’ve broken the back of inflation in this country...

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR n

13.

If two or more things are done back to back , one follows immediately after the other without any interruption.

...two half-hour shows, which will be screened back to back.

PHRASE

14.

If you are wearing something back to front , you are wearing it with the back of it at the front of your body. If you do something back to front , you do it the wrong way around, starting with the part that should come last. ( mainly BRIT; in AM, use backward )

He wears his baseball cap back to front...

The picture was printed back to front.

= backwards

PHRASE : PHR after v

15.

If you say that one thing happens on the back of another thing, you mean that it happens after that other thing and in addition to it.

The cuts, if approved, come on the back of a difficult eight years that have seen three London fire stations closed.

PHRASE

16.

If someone is on the back foot , or if something puts them on the back foot , they feel threatened and act defensively.

From now on Labour will be on the back foot on the subject of welfare.

...another scheme designed purely to put the Scots Nationalists on the back foot.

PHRASE

17.

If someone or something puts your back up or gets your back up , they annoy you. ( INFORMAL )

Some food labelling practices really get my back up.

= irritate

PHRASE : V inflects

18.

to take a back seat: see seat

III. VERB USES

/bæk/

( backs, backing, backed)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

1.

If a building backs onto something, the back of it faces in the direction of that thing or touches the edge of that thing.

We live in a ground floor flat which backs onto a busy street...

His garden backs onto a school.

VERB : V onto n , V onto n

2.

When you back a car or other vehicle somewhere or when it backs somewhere, it moves backwards.

He backed his car out of the drive...

I heard the engines revving as the lorries backed and turned.

= reverse

VERB : V n prep / adv , V , also V n

3.

If you back a person or a course of action, you support them, for example by voting for them or giving them money.

There is a new witness to back his claim that he is a victim of mistaken identity.

= support

VERB : V n

• -backed

...government-backed loans to Egypt.

COMB in ADJ

4.

If you back a particular person, team, or horse in a competition, you predict that they will win, and usually you bet money that they will win.

Roland Nilsson last night backed Sheffield Wednesday to win the UEFA Cup...

It is upsetting to discover that you have backed a loser.

VERB : V n to-inf , V n

5.

If a singer is backed by a band or by other singers, they provide the musical background for the singer.

She was backed by acoustic guitar, bass and congas.

VERB : usu passive , be V-ed by n

6.

see also backing

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.