Etymology: Middle English, from Old English bæc; akin to Old High German bah back, Old Norse bak
Date: before 12th century
(1) the rear part of the human body especially from the neck to the end of the spine
(2) the body considered as the wearer of clothes
(3) capacity for labor, effort, or endurance
(4) the back considered as the seat of one's awareness of duty or failings <get off my back> (5) the back considered as an area of vulnerability <the police officer's partner always watches his back> b. the part of a lower animal (as a quadruped) corresponding to the human back c. spinal column d. spine 1c 2. a. the side or surface opposite the front or face ; the rear part; also the farther or reverse side b. something at or on the back for support <back of a chair> c. a place away from the front <sat in back> 3. a position in some games (as football or soccer) behind the front line of players; also a player in this position • backed adjective • backless adjective II. adverb Date: 14th century 1. a. to, toward, or at the rear b. in or into the past ; backward in time; also ago c. to or at an angle off the vertical d. (1) under restraint (2) in a delayed or retarded condition 2. a. to, toward, or in a place from which a person or thing came b. to or toward a former state c. in return or reply III. adjective Date: 15th century 1. a. being at or in the back <back door> b. distant from a central or main area <back roads> c. articulated at or toward the back of the oral passage <back vowels> 2. having returned or been returned 3. being in arrears ; overdue 4. moving or operating backward ; reverse 5. not current <back issues of a magazine> 6. constituting the final 9 holes of an 18-hole golf course IV. verb Date: 1548 transitive verb 1. a. to support by material or moral assistance — often used with up b. substantiate c. to assume financial responsibility for d. to provide musical accompaniment for — often used with up 2. a. to cause to go back or in reverse b. to articulate (a sound) with the tongue farther back 3. a. to furnish with a back b. to be at the back of intransitive verb 1. to move backward — often used with up 2. of the wind to shift counterclockwise — compare veer 3. to have the back in the direction of something Synonyms: see support, recede • backer noun
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.