verb (used with object), back·bit, back·bit·ten or (Informal) back·bit; back·bit·ing.

to attack the character or reputation of (a person who is not present).

verb (used without object), back·bit, back·bit·ten or (Informal) back·bit; back·bit·ing.

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 formsback·bit·er, noun

Synonyms for backbite Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of backbiting

Historical Examples of backbiting

British Dictionary definitions for backbiting


verb -bites, -biting, -bit, -bitten or -bit

to talk spitefully about (an absent person)
Derived Formsbackbiter, 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

Word Origin and History for backbiting

c.1200, bacbitunge, from back (adj. or n.) + biting. Related: back-bite (v.), early 14c.; back-biter (c.1200).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper