1 part of the body
muscular, strong
lower, upper

The sun beat down on their bare backs.

aching, bad, sore, stiff

He's in bed with a bad back.


He spent six months recovering from a broken back.

bend, hunch (esp. AmE)

He hunches his back when he walks.


He yawned and stretched his back as he got out of bed.

break, hurt, injure

The cat arched its back and hissed at the dog.


He leaned his back against the bar.

caress, massage, pat, rub, stroke (esp. BrE)
stiffen, straighten

His back stiffened as he saw the photographers waiting.

ache, hurt
injury, pain, trouble

a seat with good back support

massage, rub

Would you give me a back rub?

behind sb's back

They tied his hands behind his back.

People say bad things about him behind his back, but never to his face. (figurative)

flat on your back

I was flat on my back for six weeks when I broke my leg.

on your back

He was carrying a small child on his back.

She was lying on her back on the sofa.

in the/your back

I have a nagging pain in my lower back.

back to

He was standing with his back to the fire.

sb's back is turned

The boss was certain that the staff would stop working as soon as his back was turned. (figurative)

back to back

The children sat back to back.

a pat on the back, a slap on the back

He smiled and gave me a hearty slap on the back.

She deserves a pat on the back for her efforts. (figurative)

the small of your back

She felt a sharp pain in the small her back.

turn your back (on sb/sth)

Actors should never turn their backs on the audience.

She decided to turn her back on Paris and return home. (figurative)

watch your back (= be careful because people may want to harm you.)

I warned her she should watch her back.

2 part furthest from the front
around back (AmE), around the back (BrE), round the back (BrE) (= to the area behind the house, etc.)

Come around back and I'll show you the pool.

If you'd like to come round the back, I'll show you the garden.

at the back

We could only get seats at the back.

down the back

My money's all fallen down the back of the cushion.

in back (AmE)

There's room for three people in back.

in the back (BrE)

Two passengers sat in the back of the car.

to the back

The cup had been pushed to the back of the cupboard.

towards/toward the back

The arts page is usually towards/toward the back of the newspaper.

back to front (BrE)

I had my pullover on back to front.

1 move back
hastily, hurriedly, immediately, quickly

She backed away hurriedly.


He backed slowly out of the room.


They instinctively backed away from the intense heat.

cautiously, nervously

He took a step forward and she nervously backed away.

away, in, off, up

Try backing the car in—it's easier that way.

Back off! There's no need to yell at me.

Can you back your car up so that I can get through?

try to

He tried to back away.


She backed across the room.

away from

The children backed away from him in fear.


She backed into the garage.

out of

He backed out of the drive.

2 support sb/sth

Teachers are strongly backing the new educational policies.

openly, publicly

his election bid was financially backed by a soft drinks company.


I'll back you up if they don't believe you.

back down
will (not)

He will never back down.

refuse to
be forced to (esp. BrE), have to

The government was forced to back down from implementing these proposals.


The committee finally backed down over the issue of spending cuts.

Back is used with these nouns as the subject: ↑conference, ↑sponsor, ↑voter
Back is used with these nouns as the object: ↑amendment, ↑appeal, ↑bill, ↑candidate, ↑car, ↑hunch, ↑initiative, ↑judgement, ↑loser, ↑move, ↑proposal, ↑rebel, ↑reform, ↑regime, ↑resolution, ↑scheme, ↑winner
Back is used with these nouns: ↑alley, ↑bedroom, ↑bench, ↑bumper, ↑copy, ↑corner, ↑cover, ↑deck, ↑door, ↑end, ↑entrance, ↑exit, ↑fence, ↑foot, ↑garden, ↑gate, ↑half, ↑issue, ↑lane, ↑lawn, ↑leg, ↑office, ↑order, ↑page, ↑part, ↑pass, ↑passage, ↑pay, ↑pocket, ↑porch, ↑rent, ↑road, ↑room, ↑row, ↑seat, ↑spin, ↑stair, ↑staircase, ↑step, ↑story, ↑street, ↑tax, ↑tooth, ↑tyre, ↑view, ↑vowel, ↑wage, ↑wall, ↑wheel, ↑window, ↑wing, ↑yard

Collocations dictionary. 2013.

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