Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

back - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun [countable]     back pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    the part of your body between your neck and your bottom, on the opposite side to your chest and stomach. The row of bones inside the back is called the backbone or spine

    Will you scratch my back for me?

    He’s broken his back, but he’s still alive.

    (flat) on your back:

    She was lying flat on her back on the bed.

  2. 2
    the part of something that is furthest from the front
    back of:

    Get in the back of the car.

    The sun burnt the back of my neck.

    1. a.
      the part of a chair that you lean on when you are sitting on it

      What’s that mark on the back of the sofa?

  3. 3
    an outside area behind a house or other building
    out/round the back:

    The kids are playing out the back.

  4. 4
    the side of a page, card, picture etc that is not the main side
    on the back:

    a concert programme with Madonna’s autograph on the back

    back of:

    I’ll put my name on the back of the envelope.

    1. a.
      the last part of a book, newspaper etc
      back of:

      A page had been torn out of the back of the book.

      in/at the back:

      a dictionary with a list of irregular verbs at the back

  5. 5
    a player in a football or hockey team whose job is to defend (=stop the other team from scoring goals)
    1. a.
      one of the positions on a team where a back plays, behind the front line of players
See also
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play