American English

Definition of back adverb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    away from front
  1. 1For 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. away from the front or center; behind you I stepped back to let them pass. Sit back and relax. He combed his hair back. He turned and looked back. She fell back toward the end of the race. opposite forward
  2. at a distance
  3. 2at a distance away from something The barriers kept the crowd back. Stand back and give me some room.
  4. under control
  5. 3under control; prevented from being expressed or coming out He could no longer hold back his tears.
  6. as before
  7. 4to or into the place, condition, situation, or activity where someone or 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. 5in or into the past; ago The village has a history going back to the Middle Ages. She left back inNovember. That was a few years back.
  10. at a previous place
  11. 6at a place previously left or mentioned We should have turned left five miles back. Back at home, her parents were worried. I can't wait to get back home.
  12. in return
  13. 7in return or reply If he kicks me, I'll kick him back. Could you call back later, please?
  14. Idioms
    back and forth
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    from one place to another and back again repeatedly ferries sailing back and forth between the islands
    back in the day
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    in the past My dad's always talking about how great everything was back in the day.
    back in the days
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    at a particular time in the past I was a fan back in the days when the band wasn't yet famous.
    come back/down to earth (with a bang/bump), bring somebody (back) down to earth (with a bang/bump) (informal)
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    to return, or to make someone 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
    in back of something (informal)
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    behind something the houses in back of the church
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: back