Meaning of “back” in the English Dictionary

"back" in British English

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backadverb

uk /bæk/ us /bæk/

back adverb (RETURN)

B2 in, into, or towards a previous place or condition, or an earlier time:

When you take the scissors, remember to put them back.
He left a note saying "Gone out. Back soon."
She went to Brazil for two years, but now she's back (= has returned).
He looked back (= looked behind him) and saw they were following him.
Looking at her old photographs brought back (= made her remember) a lot of memories.
I was woken by a thunderstorm, and I couldn't get back to sleep (= could not sleep again).
The last time we saw Lowell was back (= at an earlier time) in January.
This tradition dates back to (= to the earlier time of) the 16th century.

A2 in return:

If he hits me, I'll hit him back.
You're not just going to let her say those things about you without fighting back, are you?

A2 in reply:

I'm busy at the moment - can I call you back?
I wrote to Donna several months ago, but she hasn't written back yet.

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back adverb (FURTHER AWAY)

B2 further away in distance:

If we push the table back against the wall, we'll have more room.
"Keep back!" he shouted, "Don't come any closer!"
He sat back on the sofa.
She threw back her head and laughed uproariously.
The house is set back from the street.

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backnoun [ C ]

uk /bæk/ us /bæk/

back noun [ C ] (FURTHEST PART)

A2 the inside or outside part of an object, vehicle, building, etc. that is furthest from the front:

He jotted her name down on the back of an envelope.
I found my tennis racket at the back of the cupboard.
We sat at the back of the bus.
Our seats were right at the back of the auditorium.
Ted was out/round the back (= in the area behind the house)."
There is a beautiful garden at the back of (= behind) the house.
If there's no reply at the front door, come round the back.
He put his jacket on the back of his chair (= the part of the chair that you put your back against when you sit on it).
back to back

close together and facing in opposite directions:

The office was full of computers, and we had to sit back to back in long rows.

happening one after another, without interruption:

Coming up after the break, three Rolling Stones classics back to back.
See also
back to front C2 UK US backwards

with the back part of something where the front should be:

You've put your jumper on back to front.
the back of your hand

the side of your hand that has hair growing on it

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back noun [ C ] (BODY PART)

A2 the part of your body that is opposite to the front, from your shoulders to your bottom:

I have a bad back.
Sleeping on a bed that is too soft can be bad for your back.
He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling.
I turned my back (= turned around so that I could not see) while she dressed.
She put her back out (= caused a serious injury to her back) lifting a box.

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backverb

uk /bæk/ us /bæk/

back verb (SUPPORT)

C2 [ T ] to give support to someone or something with money or words:

The management has refused to back our proposals.

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backadjective [ before noun ]

uk /bæk/ us /bæk/

(Definition of “back” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"back" in American English

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backadverb [ not gradable ]

us /bæk/

back adverb [ not gradable ] (RETURN)

in, at, or toward a previous place or condition or an earlier time

Back can also mean in return:

back adverb [ not gradable ] (FARTHER AWAY)

farther away; to a farther place

backadjective [ not gradable ]

us /bæk/

back adjective [ not gradable ] (RETURNED)

having returned to a previous place or condition

back adjective [ not gradable ] (AT THE BACK)

at or near the back of something

backnoun

us /bæk/

back noun (FARTHEST PART)

[ U ] the part of something that is farthest from the front

[ U ] The back of your hand is the side opposite the palm that has hair growing on it.

back noun (BODY PART)

[ C ] the part of your body opposite the front, from your neck to the top of your legs

[ C ] The back of a seat is the part your back leans against.

backverb

us /bæk/

back verb (SUPPORT)

[ T ] to give support to someone or something with money or words

back verb (MOVE BACKWARD)

[ I/T ] to move backward

(Definition of “back” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"back" in Business English

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backverb [ T ]

uk /bæk/ us

to give support or approval to someone or something:

Shareholders will be asked to back the proposals.

FINANCE to provide financial support for someone or something:

A handful of firms will sell more than $2 billion of bonds backed by home equity, credit card, and other loans.
Demand continues for government-backed loans.
Investors are snapping up asset-backed bonds.

backadjective [ before noun ]

uk /bæk/ us
back pay/rent/tax, etc.

pay, rent, tax, etc. that should have been paid or was expected at an earlier time:

Most of the back taxes due were for the years 2006 through 2008.
on the back burner

If something is on the back burner, it is not being dealt with at the present time, especially because it is not urgent or important, but it will be dealt with in the future:

Any plans of opening new restaurants are on the back burner until the recession ends.
I lost my job and had to put my plans to move house on the back burner.
take a back seat

to become less important (than something else):

Agriculture, which generates only about $50 million a year in revenue, takes a back seat to other industries like oil and gas that bring in billions of dollars.
Environmental issues take a back seat in tough economic times.

to let other people have a more active and responsible position than you in an organization or activity:

After appointing a new chief executive, the chairman of the fashion chain is finally taking a back seat at the business he founded.

backadverb

uk /bæk/ us

in return or reply:

I'm busy at the moment - can I call you back?
I e-mailed the customer services department and they said they would get back to me tomorrow.

(Definition of “back” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)