back1 W1S1 [bæk] adv
1¦(return to place)¦
2¦(as before)¦
3¦(previous place)¦
6¦(return something to somebody)¦
7¦(in the past)¦
9 sit/lie/lean back
11 back and forth
12¦( towards beginning)¦
in, into, or to the place or position where someone or something was before
I'll be back in a minute.
Put that book back where you found it!
back in/to/into etc
Rory plugged the cable back into the socket.
I feel like going back to bed.
go/get/head etc back
We ought to try and get back before it gets dark.
He was back home by half-past eleven.
It's possible to travel there and back in a day.
2.) ¦(AS BEFORE)¦
in or into the condition or situation you were in before
Gary woke at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep.
It took me a long time to get my confidence back.
If you decide to marry him, there will be no going back (=you will not be able to get back to your previous situation) .
go/get back to (doing) sth
There's no way I'm going back to being poor.
It'll take a while for things to get back to normal.
in or to a place where you lived or worked before
back in/at
She was the one who had fired him from his first job back in South Africa.
back home
(=in the place that you come from and think of as your home)
It reminded me of evenings back home.
in the opposite direction from the way you are facing
≠ ↑forwards
He glanced back at the house.
Kirov stepped back a pace.
She tilted her head back to look at him.
if you do something back, you do it as a reply or reaction to what someone has said or done
Can I call you back later?
I'll pay you back on Friday.
'No, thanks!' he shouted back.
If he hits you, you just hit him back.
if you give something, get something etc back, you return it to the person who first had it or you have it returned to you
Can we have our ball back, please?
I want all my books back as soon as you've finished with them.
Give me back that letter! It's none of your business!
7.) ¦(IN THE PAST)¦
in or towards a time in the past
a pile of newspapers dating back to the 1970s
A lot of emotional problems can be traced back to childhood.
Looking back on it, I should have known he was unhappy.
At times, I think back to my life in Moscow.
back in
The house was built back in 1235.
three years/two months etc back
(=three years ago etc)
His wife died a couple of years back.
He called me a while back .
8.) ¦(AGAIN)¦
once again
Go back over your work to check for any mistakes.
Liverpool were back level again two minutes later with a superb goal.
9.) sit/lie/lean back
to sit or lie in a comfortable relaxed way
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
10.) ¦(AWAY)¦
away from a surface, person, or thing
She pulled the bandage back very carefully.
Her hair was brushed back from her face.
The woman nodded and stood back, allowing Patrick to enter.
11.) back and forth
going in one direction and then in the opposite direction, and repeating this several times
We travel back and forth all the time between Canada and England.
He was pacing back and forth across the room.
towards the beginning of a book, tape, document etc
Turn back to the summaries at the end of section 1.5.
Wind the tape back to the beginning.
Clicking on the icon will take you back to the previous web page.
back 2
back2 W1S1 n
1¦(part of your body)¦
2¦(not at front)¦
3¦(less important side)¦
4¦(part of seat)¦
6 at/in the back of your mind
7 back to back
8 back to front
9 behind somebody's back
10 when/while somebody's back is turned
11 get/put somebody's back up
12 get (somebody) off somebody's back
13 be on somebody's back
14 on the back of something
15 on the backs of somebody
17 the back of beyond
18 be (flat) on your back
19 put your back into it
20 be glad/delighted/pleased etc to see the back of somebody/something
21 have your back to/against the wall
22 at your back
23 on your back
24 high-backed/straight-backed/low-backed etc
[: Old English; Origin: bAc]
a) the part of the body between the neck and legs, on the opposite side to the stomach and chest
The cat arched its back and hissed.
My feet were sore and my back was aching.
Keep your head up and your back straight.
To avoid back problems, always bend your knees when you lift heavy objects.
He lay on his back and gazed at the ceiling.
Johnny was lying flat on his back in the middle of the floor.
Anna stood with her back to the window.
on sb's back
(=carried on someone's back)
The girl appeared again, now with a little baby on her back.
b) the bones between your neck and the top of your legs
= ↑spine
He broke his back in a motorbike accident.
2.) ¦(NOT AT FRONT)¦ [usually singular]
the part of something that is furthest from the front
≠ ↑front
a T-shirt with a picture of a snake on the back
back of
He kissed her on the back of her head.
Her window faced the backs of the houses on the other side of the river.
in the back (of sth)
(=used especially about the back of a vehicle)
Two men were sitting in the back of the car.
at the back (of sth)
a small shop with an office at the back
in back (of sth)
AmE (=in or at the back of something)
Kids should always wear seatbelts even in back.
out back
AmE (=behind a house or other building)
Tom's working on the car out back.
round/out the back
BrE (=behind a house or building)
Have you had a good look round the back?
3.) ¦(LESS IMPORTANT SIDE)¦ [usually singular]
the less important side or surface of something such as a piece of paper or card
≠ ↑front
Paul scribbled his address on the back of an envelope.
The credits are listed on the back of the album.
4.) ¦(PART OF SEAT)¦
the part of a seat that you lean against when you are sitting
back of
He rested his arm on the back of the sofa.
5.) ¦(BOOK/NEWSPAPER)¦ [usually singular]
the last pages of a book or newspaper
≠ ↑front at the back (of)
The sports pages are usually at the back.
in the back (of)
The answers are in the back of the book.
6.) at/in the back of your mind
a thought that is at the back of your mind is one you try to ignore because you do not want it to be true
At the back of her mind was the thought that he might be with someone else.
put/push sth to the back of your mind
He tried to push these uncomfortable thoughts to the back of his mind.
7.) back to back
a) with the backs towards each other
Stand back to back and we'll see who's tallest.
b) happening immediately one after the other
a couple of back to back wins for the team
8.) back to frontBrE
a) in an incorrect position so that what should be at the back is at the front
You've got your sweater on back to front.
b) doing something the wrong way round and starting with the part that should be at the end
He got the commands back to front and the program didn't work.
9.) behind sb's back
if you do something behind someone's back, you do it without them knowing
I don't like the idea of the two of them talking about me behind my back.
I should have realized that he'd go behind my back (=do something without telling me) .
10.) when/while sb's back is turned
if something happens when your back is turned, it happens when you are not able to see or know what someone is doing
Do you know what your kids are up to when your back is turned?
11.) get/put sb's back up
BrE informal to annoy someone
Simone was the kind of person who was always putting people's backs up.
12.) get (sb) off sb's back
spoken to stop annoying someone with a lot of questions, criticisms etc or to make someone stop annoying you in this way
Maybe the only way to get him off my back is to tell him the truth.
Do me a favour and get off my back !
13.) be on sb's back
spoken to be trying to make someone do something they do not want to do
Why are you and Dad always on my back?
14.) on the back of sth
as a result of something that already exists or something you have already done
The company should be able to generate business on the back of existing contracts.
15.) on the backs of sb
using the work of a particular group to achieve something that they will not get any advantage from
Economic prosperity was won on the backs of the urban poor.
16.) ¦(SPORTS)¦
a defending player in a sports team
17.) the back of beyond informal
a place that is a long way from other places and is difficult to get to
It's a nice little cottage but it really is in the back of beyond.
18.) be (flat) on your back
a) to be lying on your back - used to emphasize that someone seems unlikely to get up soon
He was drunk and flat on his back on the street.
b) to be so ill that you cannot get out of bed
Their best player was flat on his back in hospital.
c) if a business, country, ↑economy etc is on its back, it is not successful
The UK market was flat on its back.
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.) be glad/delighted/pleased etc to see the back of sb/sth
to be happy that someone is leaving or because you no longer have to deal with something
No, I'm not too upset that he left - in fact, I was glad to see the back of him.
I can't wait to see the back of this project, I can tell you (=I will be happy when it ends) .
21.) have your back to/against the wall informal
to be in a difficult situation with no choice about what to do
22.) at your back
a) behind you
They had the wind at their backs as they set off.
b) supporting you
Caesar marched into Rome with an army at his back.
23.) on your back
informal not polite if someone achieves something on their back, they achieve it by having sex with someone
24.) high-backed/straight-backed/low-backed etc
with a high, straight, low etc back
a high-backed chair
a tall straight-backed man
know sth like the back of your hand atknow1 (3), turn your back on sb/sth atturn1 (7)
back 3
back3 W3S2 v
2¦(move backwards)¦
3¦(put something on the back)¦
4¦(be behind something)¦
6¦(risk money)¦
7 back the wrong horse
Phrasal verbs
 back away
 back down
 back off
 back onto something
 back out
 back up
1.) ¦(SUPPORT)¦ [T usually passive]
a) to support someone or something, especially by giving them money or using your influence
The scheme has been backed by several major companies in the region.
Some suspected that the rebellion was backed and financed by the US.
government-backed loans
b) also back up
to support an idea by providing facts, proof etc
His claims are not backed by any scientific evidence.
2.) ¦(MOVE BACKWARDS)¦ [I always + adverb/preposition, T]
to move backwards, or make someone or something move backwards
back into/out of/away from etc
She backed into a doorway to let the crowds pass by.
back sb into/towards/out of etc sth
He began to back her towards the open door.
back sth into/towards/out of etc sth
I backed the car into the garage.
3.) ¦(PUT SOMETHING ON THE BACK)¦ [T usually passive]
to put a material or substance onto the back of something, in order to protect it or make it stronger
Back the photo with strong cardboard.
a plastic-backed shower curtain
4.) ¦(BE BEHIND SOMETHING)¦ [T usually passive]
to be at the back of something or behind it
The Jandia Peninsula is a stretch of white sands backed by a mountain range.
5.) ¦(MUSIC)¦ [T usually passive]
to play or sing the music that supports the main singer or musician
They performed all their hits, backed by a 40-piece orchestra.
6.) ¦(RISK MONEY)¦ [T]
to risk money on whether a particular horse, dog, team etc wins something
7.) back the wrong horse
to support someone or something that is not successful
back away phr v
1.) to move backwards and away from something, especially because you are frightened
back away from
She backed away from the menacing look on his face.
2.) to stop supporting a plan or idea, or stop being involved in something
back away from
The government has backed away from its nuclear weapons strategy.
back down phr v
to admit that you are wrong or that you have lost an argument
Both sides have refused to back down.
back off phr v
1.) to move backwards, away from someone or something
She backed off and then turned and ran.
2.) to stop telling someone what to do, or stop criticizing them, especially so that they can deal with something themselves
I think you should back off for a while.
Back off, Marc! Let me run my own life!
3.) to stop supporting something, or decide not to do something you were planning to do
Jerry backed off when he realized how much work was involved.
back off from
The company has backed off from investing new money.
back onto [back onto sth] phr v
if a building backs onto something, its back faces it
The hotel backs onto St Mark's Square.
back out phr v
to decide not to do something that you had promised to do
It's too late to back out now.
After you've signed the contract, it will be impossible to back out.
back out of
The government is trying to back out of its commitment to reduce pollution.
back up phr v
1.) back sb/sth<=>up
to say or show that what someone is saying is true
Jane would back me up if she were here.
There's no evidence to back up his accusations.
These theories have not been backed up by research.
2.) back sb/sth<=>up
to provide support or help for someone or something
The plan's success depends on how vigorously the UN will back it up with action.
The police officers are backed up by extra teams of people at the weekend.
3.) to make a copy of information stored on a computer
Make sure you back up every day.
back sth<=>up
These devices can back up the whole system.
back sth<=>up onto sth
Back all your files up onto floppy disks.
4.) especially AmE to make a vehicle move backwards
The truck stopped and then backed up.
back sth<=>up
I backed the car up a little.
5.) to move backwards
Back up a bit so that everyone can see.
6.) if traffic backs up, it forms a long line of vehicles that cannot move
The traffic was starting to back up in both directions.
7.) if a toilet, sink etc backs up, it becomes blocked so that water cannot flow out of it
back 4
back4 W3S2 adj [only before noun]
1.) at or in the back of something
≠ ↑front
You'll be sleeping in the back bedroom.
Turn to the back page.
I normally keep my keys in my back pocket.
There was the sound of giggling from the back row of the hall.
The rabbit had one of its back legs caught in a trap.
→↑back door
2.) behind something, especially a building
≠ ↑front
the back garden
We left by the back gate.
3.) from the back
The back view of the hotel was even less appealing than the front.
4.) back street/lane/road etc
a street etc that is away from the main streets
a short cut down a back lane
5.) back rent/taxes/pay etc
money that someone owes from an earlier date
6.) back issue/copy/number
a copy of a magazine or newspaper from an earlier date
7.) technical a back vowel sound is made by lifting your tongue at the back of your mouth

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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