behind - definition and synonyms

adverb, preposition 

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Behind can be used in the following ways:
as a preposition (followed by a noun): The car behind us was flashing its lights.
as an adverb (without a following noun): I stayed behind to look after the children.
  1. 1
    at someone/something’s back or opposite side
    1. a.
      at the back of someone or something

      The teacher was standing behind me, looking over my shoulder.

      Some papers had fallen behind the cupboard.

      Harry went out and shut the door behind him (=after he had gone through it).

      from behind:

      Someone grabbed me from behind and pulled me to the ground.

    2. b.
      following someone or something

      You walk ahead and we’ll follow along behind.

      The other runners were a long way behind Benson.

    3. c.
      on the other side of something from where you are

      The manager was sitting behind an enormous desk.

      We could hide behind those bushes.

  2. 2
    used for saying what causes something or who is responsible for making it happen, especially when this is not obvious

    Police believe that a racist group is behind the attacks.

    What’s behind this sudden change of policy?

  3. 3
    late or too slow in doing things that you have to do

    The project is already a month behind schedule.

    I’m sorry your suit isn’t ready yet. We’ve got a bit behind with things.

    be/get/fall behind:

    Within a few months she had fallen behind with her rent.

  4. 4
    remaining in a place after people have left

    A few people stayed behind to clear up.

    They left two of us behind to guard the luggage.

    Some of the equipment got left behind.

  5. 5
    achieving less progress or success
    1. a.
      used for saying that someone or something is less successful or has made less progress than others

      I’ve been ill – that’s why I’m behind everyone else in maths and French.

      Technology in Eastern Europe was at least 20 years behind the West.

      The Americans were falling behind in the competitive world of automobile design.

    2. b.
      used for saying that one person or team has a lower score or is less likely to win than their opponent

      Davis is still behind in recent opinion polls.

      behind by:

      At half time, our team was behind by 12 points.

  6. 6
    used for saying that someone supports a person, action, or idea

    You’re doing a great job, and I want you to know we’re right behind you.

    Not everyone in the Cabinet was behind Thatcher’s policies.

    When it came to a crisis, they all rallied behind their leader.

  7. 7
    used for stating hidden facts
    1. a.
      used for saying that someone’s appearance or behaviour hides their real character or feelings

      Behind her quiet shy manner there is a passionate spirit.

      It was an evil business conducted behind a show of respectability.

    2. b.
      used for talking about the real facts of a situation that people do not know

      Parents are demanding to know the truth behind these disturbing rumours.

      the terrible story behind the fur trade

  8. 8
    happening in the past
    1. a.
      if a bad experience or unpleasant situation is behind you, it no longer affects you or makes you unhappy

      With the trauma of the divorce behind her, Sandra could look forward to a better life.

      put something behind you:

      Sure, I made some bad mistakes, but I want to put all that behind me now and think about the future.

    2. b.
      if you have useful experience behind you, it gives you an advantage because you have gained skills and knowledge from it

      Robinson entered politics with 20 yearsbusiness experience behind him.