- the upper side of a joist, rafter, handrail, etc.
- the area of interior wall between a window stool and the floor.
- a player whose regular position is behind that of players who make initial contact with the opposing team, as behind the forward line in football or nearest the player's own goal in polo.
- the position occupied by this player.
verb (used with object)
- to alter the position of (a sail) so that the wind will strike the forward face.
- to brace (yards) in backing a sail.
- to reinforce the hold of (an anchor) by means of a smaller one attached to it and dropped farther away.
verb (used without object)
- to back down: Now that the time for action had arrived, it was too late to back off.
- Textiles. to reverse (the spindle) in mule spinning prior to winding on the newly spun length of yarn.
- to bring (a stream of traffic) to a standstill: A stalled car backed up traffic for miles.
- Printing. to print a sheet again on its other side.
- Printing. to fill in (the thin copper shell of an electrotype) with metal in order to strengthen it.
- to move backward: Back up into the garage.
- to reinforce: We backed up the cardboard with slats so it wouldn't fall down.
- to support or confirm: He backed up my story and they let us go.
- Computers. to duplicate (a file or a program) as a precaution against failure.
- Nautical. to trim the sails of a boat so that the wind strikes them first on the forward and then on the after side.
- to change one's opinion or position; vacillate.
- to go back and forth, as in running errands or visiting: He spent the day backing and forthing to the post office.
- to work in an aimless or ineffective way; expend effort with little result.
- Nautical. to reverse the direction of a vessel.
- to retreat from a position; withdraw an opinion: I predict that the council will back water on the tax issue.
- to be helpless or beaten: He's flat on his back after a long succession of failures.
- to be confined to one's bed because of illness.
- to complete the principal or hardest part of (a project, one's work, etc.): He finally broke the back of the problem.
- to overcome; defeat: They broke the back of our union.
- to forsake or neglect: He was unable to turn his back on any suffering creature.
- to leave behind, as in anger.
Origin of back1
SYNONYMS FOR back
ANTONYMS FOR back
Related formsback·less, adjective
Can be confusedback up backup
British Dictionary definitions for back water (1 of 2)
- a mainly defensive player behind a forward
- the position of such a player
- the side of a passage or layer nearest the surface
- the earth between that level and the next
- the back of beyond a very remote place
- Australian in such a place (esp in the phrase out back of beyond)
- to turn away from in anger or contempt
- to refuse to help; abandon
verb (mainly tr)
- nautical to manoeuvre the sails by alternately filling and emptying them of wind to navigate in a narrow place
- to vacillate in one's opinion
- in reverse
- in disorder
Word Origin for back
British Dictionary definitions for back water (2 of 2)
Word Origin for back
Medicine definitions for back water
Idioms and Phrases with back water (1 of 2)
Reverse a position, take back a statement, or otherwise retreat, as in We're sure that the senator will back water on raising taxes. This term literally refers to a vessel that moves backward in the water because its oars, paddles, or paddlewheel are reversed. It soon was transferred to other kinds of reversal. [Second half of 1700s]
Idioms and Phrases with back water (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with back
- back against the wall
- back alley
- back and fill
- back and forth
- back away
- back burner, on a
- back door
- back down
- back in circulation
- back in harness
- back number
- back of
- back of beyond
- back off
- back of one's hand
- back of one's mind
- back on one's feet
- back order
- back out
- back street
- back the wrong horse
- back to back
- back to basics
- back to the drawing board
- back to the salt mines
- back to the wall
- back up
- back water
- a while back
- behind someone's back
- break one's back
- break the back of
- call back
- choke back
- come back
- cut back
- double back
- draw back
- drop back
- eyes in the back of one's head
- fall back
- fall back on
- fall over (backward)
- flat on one's back
- from way back
- get back
- get one's back up
- give the shirt off one's back
- go back on one's word
- hang back
- hark(en) back
- hold back
- in one's own backyard
- kick back
- knock back
- know like a book (the back of one's hand)
- left-handed (back-handed) compliment
- like water off a duck's back
- look back
- monkey on one's back
- off someone's back
- pat on the back
- pay back in someone's own coin
- pin someone's ears back
- play back
- plow back
- pull back
- put one's back in it
- put one's back up
- roll back
- scratch someone's back
- see the back of
- set back
- set back on one's heels
- set one back
- set the clock back
- sit back
- slap on the back
- snap back
- stab in the back
- take aback
- take a back seat
- take back
- talk back
- think back
- throw back
- turn back
- turn one's back on
- when someone's back is turned
- with one arm tied behind one's back
- you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours