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back number

an out-of-date issue of a serial publication.
Informal. anything out-of-date.
Origin of back number
An Americanism dating back to 1805-15 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for back number
Historical Examples
  • If I have I'm a back number—and I'd a great deal rather be dead.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • When I wanted Joe, Dad didn't count, he was nothing to me but a back number.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • Yes ma'am, I've read it and I've found out what a back number I've been.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter Joseph C. Lincoln
  • No, he is a back number now, and he will be lucky if it is no worse.

    Two Daring Young Patriots W. P. Shervill
  • Jim realized that he was a back number, but he hung on just the same.

    The Easiest Way

    Eugene Walter and Arthur Hornblow
  • He once adored Victor Hugo, whom he now treats as a back number.

  • "Oh, well, it's not so bad for a back number," answered Matt.

  • No, but then you must remember that father is a back number.

    The convolvulus Allen Norton
  • He's a back number, and I'll tell her so, too, if she asks me to say any of her old pieces.

    Aunt 'Liza's Hero and Other Stories Annie Fellows Johnston
  • But he isn't a back number, even if his old deserted mill is.

    Asa Holmes Annie Fellows Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for back number

back number

an issue of a newspaper, magazine, etc, that appeared on a previous date
(informal) a person or thing considered to be old-fashioned
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for back number

back number

noun phrase

Someone or something out of date; has-been: Mr Stale is a back number (1880s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with back number

back number

Dated, out of style. For example, That hat is really a back number, or The game has changed so fast that a player who returns to the circuit after several years' absence usually finds he or she is a back number. This term originally referred to back issues of periodicals, which are no longer newsworthy. [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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