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1. the rear part of the human body, extending from the neck to the lower end of the spine.
2. the part of the body of animals corresponding to the human back.
3. the rear portion of any part of the body: the back of the head.
4. the whole body, with reference to clothing: the clothes on his back.
5. ability for labor; effort; endurance: He put his back into the task.
6. the part opposite to or farthest from the front; the rear part: the back of a hall.
7. the part that forms the rear of any object or structure: the back of a chair.
8. the part that covers the back: the back of a jacket.
9. the spine or backbone: The fall broke his back.
10. any rear part of an object serving to support, protect, etc.: the back of a binder.
11. Naut., Aeron.the forward side of a propeller blade (opposed to face).
12. Aeron.the top part or upper surface of an aircraft, esp. of its fuselage.
13. Bookbinding.the edge of a book formed where its sections are bound together.
14. the backs,grounds along the River Cam in back of certain colleges at Cambridge University in England: noted for their great beauty.
a. the upper side of a joist, rafter, handrail, etc.
b. the area of interior wall between a window stool and the floor.
17. Mining.the roof of a stope or drift.
a. 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.
b. the position occupied by this player.
19. be flat on one's back,
a. to be helpless or beaten: He's flat on his back after a long succession of failures.
b. to be confined to one's bed because of illness.
20. behind one's back, in one's absence; without one's knowledge; treacherously; secretly: I'd rather talk to him about it directly than discuss it behind his back.
21. break someone's back, to cause a person to fail, esp. to cause to become bankrupt: His family's extravagance is breaking his back.
22. break the back of,
a. to complete the principal or hardest part of (a project, one's work, etc.): He finally broke the back of the problem.
b. to overcome; defeat: They broke the back of our union.
23. get off one's back, Informal.to cease to find fault with or to disturb someone: The fight started when they wouldn't get off my back.
24. get one's back up, Informal.to become annoyed; take offense: She gets her back up whenever someone mentions her family's influence.
25. have one's back to the wall, to be in a difficult or hopeless situation.
26. in back of, behind: He hid in back of the billboard. What could be in back of his strange behavior? Also,back of.
27. on one's back, Informal.finding fault with or disturbing someone: The boss is always on my back about promptness.
28. pat on the back. See pat 1 (defs. 6, 10).
29. stab in the back. See stab (def. 13).
30. turn one's back on,
a. to forsake or neglect: He was unable to turn his back on any suffering creature.
b. to leave behind, as in anger.
1. to support, as with authority, influence, help, or money (often fol. by up): to back a candidate; to back up a theory with facts.
2. to bet on: to back a horse in the race.
3. to cause to move backward (often fol. by up): to back a car.
4. to furnish with a back: to back a book.
5. to lie at the back of; form a back or background for: a beach backed by hills.
6. to provide with an accompaniment: a singer backed by piano and bass.
7. to get upon the back of; mount.
8. to write or print on the back of; endorse; countersign.
9. Carpentry.to attach strips of wood to the upper edge of (a joist or rafter) to bring it to a desired level.
a. to alter the position of (a sail) so that the wind will strike the forward face.
b. to brace (yards) in backing a sail.
c. to reinforce the hold of (an anchor) by means of a smaller one attached to it and dropped farther away.
1. to go or move backward (often fol. by up).
2. Naut.(of wind) to change direction counterclockwise (opposed to veer).
3. back and fill,
a. Naut.to trim the sails of a boat so that the wind strikes them first on the forward and then on the after side.
b. to change one's opinion or position; vacillate.
4. back and forth, South Midland U.S.
a. to go back and forth, as in running errands or visiting: He spent the day backing and forthing to the post office.
b. to work in an aimless or ineffective way; expend effort with little result.
5. back away, to retreat; withdraw: They gradually began to back away from their earlier opinion.
6. back down, to abandon an argument, opinion, or claim; withdraw; retreat: He backed down as soon as a member of the audience challenged his assertion.
7. back off,
a. to back down: Now that the time for action had arrived, it was too late to back off.
b. Textiles.to reverse (the spindle) in mule spinning prior to winding on the newly spun length of yarn.
8. back out or out of, to fail to keep an engagement or promise; withdraw from; abandon: Two entrants have backed out of competing in the marathon. You can't back out now.
9. back up,
a. to bring (a stream of traffic) to a standstill: A stalled car backed up traffic for miles.
b. Printing.to print a sheet again on its other side.
c. Printing.to fill in (the thin copper shell of an electrotype) with metal in order to strengthen it.
d. to move backward: Back up into the garage.
e. to reinforce: We backed up the cardboard with slats so it wouldn't fall down.
f. to support or confirm: He backed up my story and they let us go.
g. Computers.to duplicate (a file or a program) as a precaution against failure.
10. back up for, Australian Informal.to return for more of, as another helping of food.
11. back water,
a. Naut.to reverse the direction of a vessel.
b. to retreat from a position; withdraw an opinion: I predict that the council will back water on the tax issue.
1. situated at or in the rear: at the back door; back fence.
2. far away or removed from the front or main area, position, or rank; remote: back settlements.
3. belonging to the past: back files; back issues.
4. in arrears; overdue: back pay.
5. coming or going back; moving backward: back current.
6. Navig.reciprocal (def. 7).
7. Phonet.(of a speech sound) produced with the tongue articulating in the back part of the mouth, as in either of the sounds of go.
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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.
7. 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.
8. back yonder, Chiefly South Midland U.S.formerly; many years ago: Back yonder, when I was a boy, things were different.
9. go back on,
a. to be treacherous or faithless to; betray: to go back on friends.
b. to fail to keep; renege on: to go back on promises.
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1. a large tub, vat, or cistern used by dyers, brewers, distillers, etc., to hold liquids.
2. a broad-beamed ferryboat hauled across a body of water by a rope or chain.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.