Definition of back adverb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//bæk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bæk//
    For the special uses of back in phrasal verbs, look at the entries for the verbs. For example pay somebody back is in the phrasal verb section at pay.
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    away from front
  1. 1  away from the front or centre; behind you I stepped back to let them pass. Sit back and relax. You've combed your hair back. He turned and looked back. She fell back towards the end of the race. opposite forward
  2. at a distance
  3. 2  at a distance away from something The barriers kept the crowd back. Stand back and give me some room.
  4. under control
  5. 3  under control; prevented from being expressed or coming out He could no longer hold back his tears.
  6. as before
  7. 4  to or into the place, condition, situation or activity where somebody/something was before Put the book back on the shelf. Please give me my ball back. He'll be back on Monday. It takes me an hour to walk there and back. Could you go back to the beginning of the story? She woke up briefly and then went back to sleep. We were right back where we started, only this time without any money.
  8. in past
  9. 5  in or into the past; ago The village has a history going back to the Middle Ages. She left back in November. That was a few years back.
  10. at a previous place
  11. 6  at a place previously left or mentioned We should have turned left five kilometres back. Back at home, her parents were worried. I can't wait to get back home.
  12. in return
  13. 7  in return or reply If he kicks me, I'll kick him back. Could you call back later, please?
  14. Word OriginOld English bæc, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch and Old Norse bak. The adverb use dates from late Middle English and is a shortening of aback.Idioms  from one place to another and back again repeatedly ferries sailing back and forth between the islands in the past My dad's always talking about how great everything was back in the day. at a particular time in the past I was a fan back in the days when the band wasn't yet famous. (North American English, informal) behind something the houses back of the church a return to the situation you were in at the beginning of a project, task, etc., because you have made no real progress If this suggestion isn't accepted, we'll be back to square one.
    come back/down to earth (with a bang/bump), bring somebody (back) down to earth (with a bang/bump)
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    (informal) to return, or to make somebody return, to a normal way of thinking or behaving after a time when they have been very excited, not very practical, etc. see also down to earth
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: back