The word "back" has many different meanings. You can use it as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and as a part of several expressions.

As a noun, "back" is the area behind something. It’s also a part of your body:

  • You can carry heavy objects on your back.
  • As people get older, they often experience pain in their back.
  • The back of your hand is opposite of your palm.
  • Try not to lift things with your back. Use your legs instead.

backpack He’s carrying something on his back.

If you use this word as a verb, it means to support someone or something. It’s a very popular choice when talking about politics:

  • Middle class and lower-income Americans usually back candidates from the Democratic party.
  • Rich people and businesses usually back Republicans.

As an adjective, "back" is used to mean that something is given from the past, or something is in a rear area.

  • Sandra is going to receive back pay from her employer for hours that she worked last year. (back pay = money that was not paid in the past.)
  • Bob is experiencing back pain.
  • Can you open the back door, please?
  • There are some guys playing poker in the back room of the bar.

This word is often used when someone or something returns:

  • When do you get back from your trip?
  • Is he coming back?
  • I won’t be back until Tuesday.
  • After a long illness, she’s back at work.
  • This trend in clothing is back.
  • Shorter hair seems to be coming back among women.

It’s also common to put "back" and "up" together to form the idiom, "back up." This means to support someone.

  • I’m going to need some help in this meeting, so if you can back me up in any way, I’d appreciate it.
  • Soldiers involved in a battle called in for back up support.
  • Witnesses to the accident back up the claim that the driver of the SUV was responsible for the accident.
  • He needs to back up his argument with more facts.

The word "back" is found in every day speech, idioms, and expressions:

  • He’s trying to get back at that company for all the problems they caused. (get back = get revenge.)
  • They go way back. (They’ve been friends for a long time.)
  • It’s not nice to talk about someone behind his back. (behind one’s back = to do or say something secretly)
  • Don’t back out of this agreement. (back out of = quit; not to honor a contract or agreement.)
  • He’s backing out on us.
  • Julio backed down from a fight. (back down = to give up one’s position.)
  • Back off. (Get away, or stop what you’re doing.)
  • I’ve got your back. (I’ll help you if you need help.)

You can find more examples for "back" on this idioms page.

Click here to learn more words.

June 11, 2014