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[bak-bahyt] /ˈbækˌbaɪt/
verb (used with object), backbit, backbitten or (Informal) backbit; backbiting.
to attack the character or reputation of (a person who is not present).
verb (used without object), backbit, backbitten or (Informal) backbit; backbiting.
to speak unfavorably or slanderously of a person who is not present.
Origin of backbite
Middle English word dating back to 1125-75; See origin at back1, bite
Related forms
backbiter, noun
1. belittle, disparage, deprecate; slander, libel, defame. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for backbite
Historical Examples
  • The first thing old backbite said when he heard of it was, 'H'm!

    Marion's Faith. Charles King
  • They who were most benefited are often the first to most loudly complain and to backbite.

    The Toilers of the Field Richard Jefferies
  • Besides, the way people gossip and backbite is the very devil!

    Three Comedies Bjrnstjerne M. Bjrnson
  • To backbite is to speak something secretly to one's injury; to calumniate is to invent as well as utter the injurious charge.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • I am sorry to be obliged to backbite, but really and truly we dont like Mrs. De Lancey Smythe.

  • Death, however ignominious, rather than remorse—the backbite of inwit, in the quaint language of our forefathers.

  • We are all friends; of course we are friends, and we all backbite each other and carry scandal and intrigue.

    The Lady of Lynn

    Walter Besant
  • backbite (Sir Benjamin), nephew of Crabtree, very conceited, and very censorious.

  • From these though descended our manners are mended,Though still we can grin and backbite!

  • He could not backbite, nor envy, nor prevaricate, nor jump at mean motives for generous acts.

    The Little White Bird J. M. Barrie
British Dictionary definitions for backbite


verb -bites, -biting, -bit, -bitten, -bit
to talk spitefully about (an absent person)
Derived Forms
backbiter, noun
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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