See more synonyms for back on
  1. at, to, or toward the rear; backward: to step back.
  2. in or toward the past: to look back on one's youth; They met in Chicago back in 1976.
  3. at or toward the original starting point, place, or condition: to go back to the old neighborhood.
  4. in direct payment or return: to pay back a loan; to answer back.
  5. in a state of restraint or retention: to hold back the tears; to hold back salary.
  6. in a reclining position: to lean back; to lie back.
Verb Phrases
  1. go back on,
    1. to be treacherous or faithless to; betray: to go back on friends.
    2. to fail to keep; renege on: to go back on promises.
  1. back and forth, from side to side; to and fro; from one to the other: The pendulum of the grandfather clock swung back and forth.
  2. back yonder, Chiefly South Midland U.S. formerly; many years ago: Back yonder, when I was a boy, things were different.

Origin of back

First recorded in 1480–90; aphetic variant of aback Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for go back on


  1. the posterior part of the human body, extending from the neck to the pelvisRelated adjective: dorsal
  2. the corresponding or upper part of an animal
  3. the spinal column
  4. the part or side of an object opposite the front
  5. the part or side of anything less often seen or usedthe back of a carpet; the back of a knife
  6. the part or side of anything that is furthest from the front or from a spectatorthe back of the stage
  7. the convex part of somethingthe back of a hill; the back of a ship
  8. something that supports, covers, or strengthens the rear of an object
  9. ball games
    1. a mainly defensive player behind a forward
    2. the position of such a player
  10. the part of a book to which the pages are glued or that joins the covers
  11. mining
    1. the side of a passage or layer nearest the surface
    2. the earth between that level and the next
  12. the upper surface of a joist, rafter, slate, tile, etc, when in positionCompare bed (def. 13)
  13. at one's back behind, esp in support or pursuit
  14. at the back of one's mind not in one's conscious thoughts
  15. behind one's back without one's knowledge; secretly or deceitfully
  16. break one's back to overwork or work very hard
  17. break the back of to complete the greatest or hardest part of (a task)
  18. on one's back or flat on one's back incapacitated, esp through illness
  19. get off someone's back informal to stop criticizing or pestering someone
  20. have on one's back to be burdened with
  21. on someone's back informal criticizing or pestering someone
  22. put one's back into to devote all one's strength to (a task)
  23. put someone's back up or get someone's back up to annoy someone
  24. see the back of to be rid of
  25. back of beyond
    1. the back of beyonda very remote place
    2. Australianin such a place (esp in the phrase out back of beyond)
  26. turn one's back on
    1. to turn away from in anger or contempt
    2. to refuse to help; abandon
  27. with one's back to the wall in a difficult or desperate situation
verb (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to move or cause to move backwards
  2. to provide support, money, or encouragement for (a person, enterprise, etc)
  3. to bet on the success ofto back a horse
  4. to provide with a back, backing, or lining
  5. to provide with a music accompanimenta soloist backed by an orchestra
  6. to provide a background for; be at the back ofmountains back the town
  7. to countersign or endorse
  8. archaic to mount the back of
  9. (intr; foll by on or onto) to have the back facing (towards)the house backs onto a river
  10. (intr) (of the wind) to change direction in an anticlockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and a clockwise direction in the southernSee veer 1 (def. 3a)
  11. nautical to position (a sail) so that the wind presses on its opposite side
  12. back and fill
    1. nauticalto manoeuvre the sails by alternately filling and emptying them of wind to navigate in a narrow place
    2. to vacillate in one's opinion
adjective (prenominal)
  1. situated behinda back lane
  2. of the pastback issues of a magazine
  3. owing from an earlier dateback rent
  4. mainly US, Australian and NZ remoteback country
  5. (of a road) not direct
  6. moving in a backward directionback current
  7. phonetics of, relating to, or denoting a vowel articulated with the tongue retracted towards the soft palate, as for the vowels in English hard, fall, hot, full, fool
  1. at, to, or towards the rear; away from something considered to be the front; backwards; behind
  2. in, to, or towards the original starting point, place, or conditionto go back home; put the book back; my headache has come back
  3. in or into the pastto look back on one's childhood
  4. in reply, repayment, or retaliationto hit someone back; pay back a debt; to answer back
  5. in checkthe dam holds back the water
  6. in concealment; in reserveto keep something back; to hold back information
  7. back and forth to and fro
  8. back to front
    1. in reverse
    2. in disorder

Word Origin for back

Old English bæc; related to Old Norse bak, Old Frisian bek, Old High German bah


  1. a large tub or vat, esp one used by brewers

Word Origin for back

C17: from Dutch bak tub, cistern, from Old French bac, from Vulgar Latin bacca (unattested) vessel for liquids
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 go back on



Old English bæc "back," from Proto-Germanic *bakam (cf. Old Saxon and Middle Dutch bak, Old Frisian bek), with no known connections outside Germanic.

The cognates mostly have been ousted in this sense in other modern Germanic languages by words akin to Modern English ridge (cf. Danish ryg, German Rücken). Many Indo-European languages show signs of once having distinguished the horizontal back of an animal (or a mountain range) from the upright back of a human. In other cases, a modern word for "back" may come from a word related to "spine" (Italian schiena, Russian spina) or "shoulder, shoulder blade" (Spanish espalda, Polish plecy).

To turn (one's) back on (someone or something) "ignore" is from early 14c. Behind (someone's) back "clandestinely" is from late 14c.

To know (something) like the back of one's hand, implying familiarity, is first attested 1893. The first attested use of the phrase is from a dismissive speech made to a character in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Catriona":

If I durst speak to herself, you may be certain I would never dream of trusting it to you; because I know you like the back of my hand, and all your blustering talk is that much wind to me.

The story, a sequel to "Kidnapped," has a Scottish setting and context, and the back of my hand to you was noted in the late 19th century as a Scottish expression meaning "I will have nothing to do with you" [e.g. "Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language"]. In English generally, the back of (one's) hand has been used to imply contempt and rejection since at least 1300. Perhaps the connection of a menacing dismissal is what made Stevenson choose that particular anatomical reference.



late 15c., "to move (something) back," from back (adv.). Meaning "to support" (as by a bet) is first attested 1540s. Related: Backed; backing.



Middle English, from back (n.) and back (adv.). Formerly with comparative backer (c.1400), also backermore. To be on the back burner in the figurative sense is from 1960, from the image of a cook keeping a pot there to simmer while he or she works on another concoction at the front of the stove.



late 14c., shortened from abak, from Old English on bæc "backwards, behind, aback" (see back (n.)). Back and forth attested from 1814.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

go back on in Medicine


  1. The posterior portion of the trunk of the human body between the neck and the pelvis; the dorsum.
  2. The backbone or spine.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with go back on

go back on

Fail to honor or keep, as in You can't go back on your word, or One should never go back on a promise. [Mid-1800s]


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

also see:

  • 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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.