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adverb back pronunciation in British English /bæk/
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  1. 1
    in the direction that is behind you
    Don’t look back, but there’s a man following us.
    He asked us to move back a few yards.
    1. a.
      in a position where your back is leaning backwards
      lean/sit/lie back: She leant back in her chair.
      I’m going to sit back and read the paper for a while.
  2. 2
    away from someone or something, especially because they are dangerous
    Get back – he’s got a gun!
    Everybody stand back while I light the fire.
    1. a.
      away from an original position or place
      Peel this label back to see if you have won a prize.
      The band started playing as the curtain slowly went back.
    2. b.
      away from your face
      Her hair was tied back in a ponytail.
  3. 3
    returning to a place or position
    I’m never going back home.
    Put those CDs back where you found them.
    1. a.
      returning to an earlier state or condition
      We’re hoping things will be back to normal again soon.
      I couldn’t get back to sleep.
    2. b.
      returning to a previous point in a discussion
      Can we go back to what we were talking about earlier?
  4. 4
    as a reply to someone
    Jane phoned, and I said you’d phone her back later.
    ‘Have you any idea where we are?’ ‘No’, Dan shouted back.
    1. a.
      doing the same thing to someone as they have done to you
      He punched me, so I punched him back.
      look/stare/smile etc back: Geoff was staring back at me in disbelief.
  5. 5
    used for talking about a period of time in the past
    Back in the ’70s, disco music was very popular.
    She had a minor operation a few years back.
    Things were different back then.
    1. a.
      to a period of time in the past
      Think back: don’t you remember anything?
    2. b.
      to an earlier time on a clock or watch
      set/put the clock back: Don’t forget to set the clocks back an hour tonight.
  6. 6
    in a place that you have mentioned before, but that is different from the one you have just been talking about
    Back at the hospital, the baby had just been born.
    1. a.
      used for talking about a place where you live or work or used to live or work when you are in a different place
      I have no idea what’s going on back home.
      Back in Spain, we used to spend summer in the mountains.
  7. 7
    towards the beginning of something such as a journey or a book
    You should have got off three stops back.
    Go back a couple of pages.


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

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an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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