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2017 Word of the Year

backstairs

or backstair

[bak-stairz] /ˈbækˈstɛərz/
adjective
1.
associated or originating with household servants.
2.
secret, underhanded, or scandalous:
backstairs gossip.
Origin of backstairs
1635-1645
First recorded in 1635-45; adj. use of back stairs
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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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.

    The Ship of Fools, Volume 1 Sebastian Brandt
  • But I hope one of the results of this war will be the end of backstairs diplomacy.

    Face to Face with Kaiserism

    James W. Gerard
  • 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
  • He wasn't groom of the backstairs to England's queen for nothing.

    The Lion and The Mouse Charles Klein
  • Morris handed him a quarter and he shuffled off toward the backstairs.

    Abe and Mawruss Montague Glass
  • A backstairs way of discrediting a master before his servants.

    The Road to Damascus August Strindberg
  • One was sometimes disposed to wonder whether he did not think too much about the backstairs.

    Studies in Contemporary Biography

    James Bryce, Viscount Bryce
British Dictionary definitions for backstairs

backstairs

/ˈbækˈstɛəz/
plural noun
1.
a secondary staircase in a house, esp one originally for the use of servants
adjective
2.
underhand: backstairs gossip
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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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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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