back2 S1 W1 [countable]
part of your body
the part of the body between the neck and legs, on the opposite side to the stomach and chest:
The cat arched its back and hissed.
My feet were sore and my back was aching.
Keep your head up and your back straight.
To avoid back problems, always bend your knees when you lift heavy objects.
He lay on his back and gazed at the ceiling.
Johnny was lying flat on his back in the middle of the floor.
Anna stood with her back to the window.
on somebody's back (=carried on someone's back)
The girl appeared again, now with a little baby on her back.
the bones between your neck and the top of your legs [= spine]:
He broke his back in a motorbike accident.
the part of something that is furthest from the front [≠ front]:
not at front[usually singular]
a T-shirt with a picture of a snake on the back
He kissed her on the back of her head.
Her window faced the backs of the houses.
in the back (of something) (=used especially about the back of a vehicle)
Two men were sitting in the back of the car.
at the back (of something)
a small shop with an office at the back
in back (of something) American English (=in or at the back of something)
Kids should always wear seatbelts even in back.
out back American English (=behind a house or other building)
Tom's working on the car out back.
round/out the back British English (=behind a house or building)
Have you looked round the back?
the less important side or surface of something such as a piece of paper or card [≠ front]:
less important side[usually singular]
Paul scribbled his address on the back of an envelope.
The credits are listed on the back of the album.
the part of a seat that you lean against when you are sitting
part of seat
He rested his arm on the back of the sofa.
the last pages of a book or newspaper [≠ front]
at the back (of)
The sports pages are usually at the back.
in the back (of)
The answers are in the back of the book.
a thought that is at the back of your mind is one you try to ignore because you do not want it to be true:
At the back of her mind was the thought that he might be with someone else.
put/push something to the back of your mind
He tried to push these uncomfortable thoughts to the back of his mind.
with the backs towards each other:
Stand back to back and we'll see who's tallest.
happening immediately one after the other: ➔ back-to-back1
a couple of back to back wins for the team
8 British English
in an incorrect position so that what should be at the back is at the front:
You've got your sweater on back to front.
doing something the wrong way round and starting with the part that should be at the end:
He got the commands back to front and the program didn't work.
if you do something behind someone's back, you do it without them knowing:
I don't like the idea of the two of them talking about me behind my back.
I should have realized that he'd go behind my back (=do something without telling me).
if something happens when your back is turned, it happens when you are not able to see or know what someone is doing:
What are your kids are up to when your back is turned?
11 British English informal
to annoy someone:
Simone was the kind of person who was always putting people's backs up.
to stop annoying someone with a lot of questions, criticisms etc or to make someone stop annoying you in this way:
Maybe the only way to get him off my back is to tell him the truth.
Do me a favour and get off my back!
to be trying to make someone do something they do not want to do:
Why are you and Dad always on my back?
as a result of something that already exists or something you have already done:
The company should be able to generate business on the back of existing contracts.
using the work of a particular group to achieve something that they will not get any advantage from:
Economic prosperity was won on the backs of the urban poor.
a defending player in a sports team [= defender]
a place that is a long way from other places and is difficult to get to:
It's a nice little cottage but it really is in the back of beyond.
to be lying on your back - used to emphasize that someone seems unlikely to get up soon:
He was drunk and flat on his back on the street.
to be so ill that you cannot get out of bed:
Their best player was flat on his back in hospital.
if a business, country, economy etc is on its back, it is not successful:
The UK market was flat on its back.
to work extremely hard at something:
If we really put our backs into it, we could finish today.
to be happy that someone is leaving or because you no longer have to deal with something:
No, I'm not too upset that he left - in fact, I was glad to see the back of him.
I can't wait to see the back of this project, I can tell you (=I will be happy when it ends).
to be in a difficult situation with no choice about what to do
They had the wind at their backs as they set off.
Caesar marched into Rome with an army at his back.
23 informal not polite
if someone achieves something on their back, they achieve it by having sex with someone
with a high, straight, low etc back:
a high-backed chair