1 adverb
1 RETURN in or into the place or position where someone or something was before: Freddie was supposed to be back at the hotel by six. | Put that book back where you found it! | "We'd better go back," she said regretfully.
2 AS BEFORE in or into the condition that someone or something was in before: I just couldn't get back to sleep. | This brings me back to my point about the state of the economy.
3 HOME TOWN in a place where you or your family lived before
(+ in/at etc): Back in Manitoba we used to skate on the lakes in winter. | Back home we never did things this way.
4 NOT FORWARDS in the direction that you have come from: George glanced back to see if he was still being followed. | He took a few steps back, then took the photo.
5 REPLY as a reply or reaction to what someone has done: Can you ask Mr Clark to call me back? | I'll pay you back on Friday. | I grinned back at him.
6 AGAIN once again: Play the tape back for me, will you? | Let's go back over these figures just to make sure we're right.
7 sit/lie/lean back to sit or lie in a comfortable, relaxed way: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
8 THE PAST in or towards an earlier time
(+ in/on): Back in the fifties, children respected their elders. | three years/two months etc back (=three years ago etc): If I'd known three years back that stocks were going to crash, I'd have sold everything.
9 AWAY FROM SB away from the person who is speaking: Stay well back! Let the ambulance through.
10 AWAY FROM STH away from a surface or area: Pull back the bandage and see if the wound is healing. | The clouds rolled back and suddenly there was sunlight.
11 back and forth if someone or something goes back and forth, they go in one direction then back to where they started from, and keep repeating this movement: The shuttle bus runs back and forth between the airport and the downtown area. | packing back and forth in the waiting room
12 BOOK towards the beginning of a book: There's a picture six pages further back.
13 pay/get sb back (for) to do something unpleasant to someone because they have done something unpleasant to you or someone you care about: I'll pay him back for hurting my sister - just you wait!
14 go back on a promise/agreement etc to do the opposite of what you promised to do: You can trust Kate - she'll never go back on her word.
2 noun (C)
a) the side of a person's or animal's body that is opposite the chest and goes from the neck to the top of the legs: He lifted the bag of golf clubs onto his back. | The cat arched its back and hissed. | on your back (=with your back on the ground): They lay on their backs and gazed at the sky. | with your back to: Stand with your back to the wall and don't move.
b) the bones that go from your neck to the top of your legs: He broke his back in a motorbike accident.
2 PART the part of something that is furthest from the direction in which it moves or faces
(+ of): He kissed her on the back of her head. | I think there's enough room for your stuff in the back of the truck. | at the back: a small shop with an office at the back -see front 1 | in back (of) AmE (=in or at the back of something): When we go on long journeys by car the kids always ride in back. | round the back/out (the) back BrE informal (=behind a house or other building): We keep the bikes in a shed out the back. -opposite front 1 (3)
3 SURFACE the less important side or surface of something such as a paper or card: Paul scribbled his address on the back of an envelope. | On the back of the canvas we can see the date: 1645.
4 CHAIR the part of a seat that you lean against when you are sitting
(+ of): He rested his arm on the back of the sofa.
5 BOOK/NEWSPAPER the last pages of a book or newspaper
(+ of): The index is at the back of the book.
6 FOOTBALL ETC one of the defending players on a football or hockey team
7 at your back
a) behind you: They had the wind at their backs as they set off.
b) literary supporting you: Caesar marched into Rome with an army at his back.
8 at/in the back of your mind a thought or feeling that is at the back of your mind is influencing you even though you are not thinking about it: At the back of Joe's mind was the feeling that he had seen this place before.
9 back to back
a) with the backs towards each other: Stand back to back and we'll see who is taller.
-see also: back-to-back
b) especially AmE happening one after the other: a marathon basketball tournament with games played back to back
10 back to front BrE in an incorrect position so that what should be the back is at the front; backwards: You've got your sweater on back to front.
11 behind sb's back if you do something behind someone's back, you do it without them knowing: She's the kind of person who talks about you behind your back.
12 get/put sb's back up informal to annoy someone: You'll just put people's backs up if you're aggressive all the time.
13 get off my back spoken used to tell someone to stop annoying you or asking you to do things you do not want to do: Do me a favour and get off my back!
14 know sth back to front BrE know sth backwards AmE if you know or learn something back to front, you know it very thoroughly: You can't fool her! She knows the regulations back to front!
15 know somewhere like the back of your hand to know a place extremely well: I'll drive, if you want - I know New York like the back of my hand.
16 the back of beyond informal especially BrE a very distant place that is difficult to get to: They live on a farm somewhere in the back of beyond.
17 be (flat) on your back to be so ill that you cannot get out of bed: He's been flat on his back with flu for three weeks.
18 be on sb's back informal to be trying to make someone do things they do not want to do: Dad's on my back about my homework, so I can't go out tonight.
19 put your back into it informal to work extremely hard at something: If we really put our backs into it, we could finish today.
20 have your back to the wall informal to be in a very difficult position with no choice about what to do
21 low-backed/straight-backed/narrow-backed etc with a low, straight, narrow etc back: a high-backed chair
22 turn your back on to refuse to be involved with something: So many of them just turn their backs on their religion when they leave home.
3 adjective (only before noun)
1 at the back: a back room | the back page | a back seat
-see also: back door
2 behind something: in the back yard
3 from the back: a back view | Go in the back way so you won't be seen.
4 back street/lane/road etc a street etc that is away from the main streets: a little shop in a back street behind the station
5 back rent/taxes/pay money that someone owes from an earlier date
6 back issue/copy/number an old copy of a magazine or newspaper: a pile of back copies of `Punch' magazine
7 technical a back vowel sound is made by raising your tongue at the back of your mouth
4 verb
1 MOVE SB (intransitive always + adv/prep, transitive always + adv/prep) to move backwards, or make someone else move backwards: back towards/across etc: Stanley backed slowly across the stage.
2 MOVE VEHICLE (I, T) to make a car move backwards; reverse 1 (2): back (sth) into/out of etc If you back your car out of the driveway I can get mine in
3 SUPPORT (T) to support someone or something, especially with money, power, or influence: The bill is backed by environmental lobbyists. | government-backed loans
4 BACK SURFACE (transitive usually passive) to put something on the back surface of a flat piece of material: Back the photo with strong cardboard. | a plastic-backed shower curtain
5 BE BEHIND (transitive usually passive) to be at the back of something or behind it: It was a sunny spot, backed by a wall.
6 MUSIC (transitive usually passive) if musicians back a singer or another musician, they play music that makes the main performer sound better
7 HORSE/DOG RACE (T) to risk money on whether a horse, dog, team etc wins something: We backed Eliamana but it finished fourth.
8 back the wrong horse to support a person, group etc that loses
9 WIND (I) technical if the wind backs, it changes direction, moving around the compass (1) in the direction North-West-South-East

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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