Meaning of BACK in English



1. moving backwards

2. to move backwards

3. to make a vehicle go backwards

the back of something

4. the back part of something

5. the back of something flat

6. at the back of something


to give something back to someone : ↑ GIVE (11)

to go back to a place : ↑ RETURN

to get something back from someone : ↑ GET (11)


1. moving backwards

▷ back /bæk/ [adverb]

moving or looking towards a place behind you :

▪ He looked back over his shoulder.

▪ I stepped back to let them pass.

▷ backwards also backward /ˈbækwəʳdz, ˈbækwəʳd/ [adverb]

moving back and away from the direction in which you are facing :

▪ Sarah fell backwards in the snow.

▪ Can you skate backward?

▪ Stepping backwards, Harry trod on the foot of the woman behind him.

backwards and forwards

▪ She gently rocked the baby backwards and forwards.

2. to move backwards

▷ back out of/through/towards etc /ˌbæk ˈaʊt ɒv/ [transitive verb]

to walk backwards in a particular direction, especially in order to leave a room or building :

▪ Hardy backed slowly toward the door.

▪ Simms quietly backed out of the office, his face red with embarrassment.

▪ When she was sure the baby was asleep, she backed softly through the bedroom door.

▷ back away /ˌbæk əˈweɪ/ [intransitive phrasal verb]

to walk slowly backwards, especially to get further away from someone or to avoid a dangerous situation :

▪ ‘Are you crazy?’ she cried, backing away.

back away from

▪ We slowly backed away from the rattlesnake.

▷ back up /ˌbæk ˈʌp/ [intransitive phrasal verb] especially American

to move backwards a little, for example in order to give someone enough space to move :

▪ Back up a bit so that everyone can see.

▪ Can you back up a few steps so that I can open the door?

▷ retreat /rɪˈtriːt/ [intransitive verb]

to walk backwards or away from the direction you were walking before, especially in order to avoid an embarrassing or unpleasant situation :

▪ Jim saw me approaching and quickly retreated down a side street.

retreat from/into/to etc

▪ ‘You haven’t heard the last of this!’ shouted Spencer, retreating up the stairs.

▷ step back /ˌstep ˈbæk/ [verb phrase]

to take one step or a few steps backwards :

▪ Myers quickly stepped back into the house when he caught sight of us.

▪ As the lights of a car approached he stepped back into the shadows.

▷ recoil /rɪˈkɔɪl/ [intransitive verb]

to suddenly move part or all of your body backwards, away from something that is unpleasant or frightening :

▪ She looked at the dead body and recoiled.

recoil from

▪ She recoiled from his touch.

▷ pull away /ˌpʊl əˈweɪ/ [intransitive phrasal verb]

to move quickly and suddenly backwards in order to get away from someone, especially because you are upset, angry, or frightened :

▪ When Helen took his arm he tried to pull away.

▪ I tried to kiss her but she pulled away.

3. to make a vehicle go backwards

▷ reverse /rɪˈvɜːʳs/ [intransitive/transitive verb] especially British

to drive a car or other vehicle backwards :

▪ You’ll have to reverse to let them pass.

▪ He slowly reversed the van into the parking place.

reverse out of/into/round etc

▪ As I approached the house a car reversed out of the driveway and sped off down the road.

▷ back up /ˌbæk ˈʌp/ [] especially American

to drive a car or other vehicle backwards :

▪ The car stopped and then began to back up.

▪ Back the truck up a little more, will you?

back up something

▪ Cindi backed up the car and stopped in front of the door.

▷ back /bæk/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to drive a car or other vehicle backwards, especially in order to get into or out of a space :

back out/in/into

▪ I wouldn’t park there -- it’s going to be very difficult to back out again.

back something out/in/into

▪ Morris carefully backed the truck into the shed.

4. the back part of something

▷ the back /ðə ˈbæk/ [singular noun]

the part that is furthest from the front :

▪ Someone crashed into the back of my car.

▪ You can leave your bike around the back.

▪ They walked past the back of the cottage.

▪ Did you know you have paint on the back of your skirt?

▪ ‘How do I turn the computer on?’ ‘There’s a switch at the back.’

▷ the rear /ðə ˈrɪəʳ/ [singular noun] formal

the back part of a building or vehicle :

▪ Access to the kitchen is from the rear.

▪ There are more seats at the rear of the theater.

5. the back of something flat

▷ the back /ðə ˈbæk/ [singular noun]

▪ I wrote down her address on the back of an envelope.

▪ He was trying to scrape the wax off with the back of a knife.

on the back

▪ If you look on the back, you’ll see the artist’s signature.

▪ ‘I can’t see the wine list.’ ‘It’s on the back.’

▷ the other side /ði ˌʌðəʳ ˈsaɪd/ [noun phrase]

▪ Write your name here and on the other side put your phone number.

▷ the reverse side /ðə rɪˌvɜːʳs ˈsaɪd/ [singular noun]

the back side of something - used especially in written instructions or descriptions :

▪ Sign the check on the reverse side.

▪ The reverse side of the coin has the president’s head on it.

6. at the back of something

▷ at the back British /in the back especially American /ət ðə ˈbæk, ɪn ðə ˈbæk/ [adverb]

▪ I couldn’t see very well because we were seated in the back.

▪ There’s something rotting at the back of the refrigerator.

▪ I found your passport -- it was at the back of the drawer.

▷ at the rear /ət ðə ˈrɪəʳ/ [adverb]

at the back of a building, room, or vehicle - used especially in instructions and written descriptions :

▪ Passengers for Birmingham should sit at the rear of the train.

▪ Brenda sat at the reception desk at the rear of the main hall.

▪ A VW’s engine is at the rear of the vehicle.

▷ in the back /ɪn ðə ˈbæk/ [adverb]

at the back of a car or other vehicle :

▪ Just throw all your bags in the back.

▪ Don’t let the dog sit in the front -- he has to go in the back.

▪ She couldn’t see out of the rear window because of all the junk in the back of the truck.

▷ back also rear formal /bæk, rɪəʳ/ [adjective only before noun]

at the back of something, for example a building or car :

▪ The burglars broke into the house through the back door.

▪ The rear brakes are completely worn out.

▪ You can put your suitcase on the back seat of the car.

▪ They made their way toward the rear exit.

▪ The rear carriage of the train is reserved for non-smokers.

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