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backstairs

or back·stair

[bak-stairz]
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adjective
  1. associated or originating with household servants.
  2. secret, underhanded, or scandalous: backstairs gossip.
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Origin of backstairs

First recorded in 1635–45; adj. use of back stairs
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for backstairs

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "That's truth enough," said an asthmatic voice from the backstairs.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • The road to eminence lay by the "backstairs," the atmosphere of which he could not endure.

  • But I hope one of the results of this war will be the end of backstairs diplomacy.

  • The backstairs one would not choose; but what other way was there?

    The Lady of Lynn

    Walter Besant

  • We will go to my room by the backstairs, then we sha'n't disturb anybody.

    Unlucky

    Caroline Austin


British Dictionary definitions for backstairs

backstairs

pl n
  1. a secondary staircase in a house, esp one originally for the use of servants
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adjective Also: backstair
  1. underhandbackstairs gossip
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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

Word Origin and History for backstairs

"stairs at the back of a structure," 1650s, from back (adj.) + stairs (see stair). Figurative use is attested earlier (1640s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper