back - definition and synonyms


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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.

  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.