[ maws-bak, mos- ]
/ ˈmɔsˌbæk, ˈmɒs- /


  1. a person holding very antiquated notions; reactionary.
  2. a person living in the backwoods; rustic.
an old turtle.
Angling. a large and old fish, as a bass.
a wild bull or cow.

Nearby words

  1. moss rose,
  2. moss stitch,
  3. moss-grown,
  4. mossad,
  5. mossadegh,
  6. mossbunker,
  7. mossi,
  8. mossie,
  9. mosso,
  10. mossoró

Origin of mossback

An Americanism dating back to 1870–75; moss + back1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mossback

British Dictionary definitions for mossback


/ (ˈmɒsˌbæk) /

noun US and Canadian

an old turtle, shellfish, etc, that has a growth of algae on its back
informal a provincial or conservative person
Derived Formsmossbacked, adjective

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 mossback



"conservative," 1874, especially of poor whites from Carolina, originally (1872) in reference to those who hid out to avoid service in the Confederate army (and would have stayed out till the moss grew on their backs); from moss + back (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper