Back yonder

at, to, or toward the rear; backward:
to step back.
in or toward the past:
to look back on one’s youth; They met in Chicago back in 1976.
at or toward the original starting point, place, or condition:
to go back to the old neighborhood.
in direct payment or return:
to pay back a loan; to answer back.
in a state of restraint or retention:
to hold back the tears; to hold back salary.
in a reclining position:
to lean back; to lie back.
go back on,

to be treacherous or faithless to; betray:
to go back on friends.
to fail to keep; renege on:
to go back on promises.

back and forth, from side to side; to and fro; from one to the other:
The pendulum of the grandfather clock swung back and forth.
back yonder, Chiefly South Midland U.S. formerly; many years ago:
Back yonder, when I was a boy, things were different.
Historical Examples

I was noticin’ back yonder in the chuck-house how plump y’ are.
The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates

But I can make that dumb me back yonder do what has to be done.
Sam, This is You William Fitzgerald Jenkins

Well, jus’ let me tell you, dem days back yonder ‘fore de war was de happiest time of my whole life.
Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Work Projects Administration

Hear him cursing, back yonder, for his pistol will not go off!
A Gentleman Player Robert Neilson Stephens

back yonder in the States they’ll be having parades and speeches, and the flag will be flying from every masthead.
The Flag Homer Greene

Well, I found this check when I frisked Loustalot back yonder.
The Pride of Palomar Peter B. Kyne

Somewhere, back yonder, or in the years coming, some vague horror waited for him to fight.
The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 75, January, 1864 Various

If you’d had any ammunition, our fire would have been returned, back yonder in the woods.
The Littlest Rebel Edward Peple

De gentleman what done dis was dat man Adam, back yonder in de garden.
Slave Narratives Vol. XIV. South Carolina, Part 1 Various

back yonder somewhere in the carriage that is following us is a man who loves me—a noble, manly, honest man.
Frank Merriwell’s Son Burt L. Standish

the posterior part of the human body, extending from the neck to the pelvis related adjective dorsal
the corresponding or upper part of an animal
the spinal column
the part or side of an object opposite the front
the part or side of anything less often seen or used: the back of a carpet, the back of a knife
the part or side of anything that is furthest from the front or from a spectator: the back of the stage
the convex part of something: the back of a hill, the back of a ship
something that supports, covers, or strengthens the rear of an object
(ball games)

a mainly defensive player behind a forward
the position of such a player

the part of a book to which the pages are glued or that joins the covers

the side of a passage or layer nearest the surface
the earth between that level and the next

the upper surface of a joist, rafter, slate, tile, etc, when in position Compare bed (sense 13)
at one’s back, behind, esp in support or pursuit
at the back of one’s mind, not in one’s conscious thoughts
behind one’s back, without one’s knowledge; secretly or deceitfully
break one’s back, to overwork or work very hard
break the back of, to complete the greatest or hardest part of (a task)
on one’s back, flat on one’s back, incapacitated, esp through illness
(informal) get off someone’s back, to stop criticizing or pestering someone
have on one’s back, to be burdened with
(informal) on someone’s back, criticizing or pestering someone
put one’s back into, to devote all one’s strength to (a task)
put someone’s back up, get someone’s back up, to annoy someone
see the back of, to be rid of
back of beyond

the back of beyond, a very remote place
(Austral) in such a place (esp in the phrase out back of beyond)

turn one’s back on

to turn away from in anger or contempt
to refuse to help; abandon

with one’s back to the wall, in a difficult or desperate situation
verb (mainly transitive)
(also intransitive) to move or cause to move backwards
to provide support, money, or encouragement for (a person, enterprise, etc)
to bet on the success of: to back a horse
to provide with a back, backing, or lining
to provide with a music accompaniment: a soloist backed by an orchestra
to provide a background for; be at the back of: mountains back the town
to countersign or endorse
(archaic) to mount the back of
(intransitive; foll by on or onto) to have the back facing (towards): the house backs onto a river
(intransitive) (of the wind) to change direction in an anticlockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and a clockwise direction in the southern See veer1 (sense 3a)
(nautical) to position (a sail) so that the wind presses on its opposite side
back and fill

(nautical) to manoeuvre the sails by alternately filling and emptying them of wind to navigate in a narrow place
to vacillate in one’s opinion

adjective (prenominal)
situated behind: a back lane
of the past: back issues of a magazine
owing from an earlier date: back rent
(mainly US & Austral, NZ) remote: back country
(of a road) not direct
moving in a backward direction: back current
(phonetics) of, relating to, or denoting a vowel articulated with the tongue retracted towards the soft palate, as for the vowels in English hard, fall, hot, full, fool
at, to, or towards the rear; away from something considered to be the front; backwards; behind
in, to, or towards the original starting point, place, or condition: to go back home, put the book back, my headache has come back
in or into the past: to look back on one’s childhood
in reply, repayment, or retaliation: to hit someone back, pay back a debt, to answer back
in check: the dam holds back the water
in concealment; in reserve: to keep something back, to hold back information
back and forth, to and fro
back to front

in reverse
in disorder

a large tub or vat, esp one used by brewers

Old English bæc “back,” from Proto-Germanic *bakam (cf. Old Saxon and Middle Dutch bak, Old Frisian bek), with no known connections outside Germanic.

The cognates mostly have been ousted in this sense in other modern Germanic languages by words akin to Modern English ridge (cf. Danish ryg, German Rücken). Many Indo-European languages show signs of once having distinguished the horizontal back of an animal (or a mountain range) from the upright back of a human. In other cases, a modern word for “back” may come from a word related to “spine” (Italian schiena, Russian spina) or “shoulder, shoulder blade” (Spanish espalda, Polish plecy).

To turn (one’s) back on (someone or something) “ignore” is from early 14c. Behind (someone’s) back “clandestinely” is from late 14c.

To know (something) like the back of one’s hand, implying familiarity, is first attested 1893. The first attested use of the phrase is from a dismissive speech made to a character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Catriona”:

If I durst speak to herself, you may be certain I would never dream of trusting it to you; because I know you like the back of my hand, and all your blustering talk is that much wind to me.

The story, a sequel to “Kidnapped,” has a Scottish setting and context, and the back of my hand to you was noted in the late 19th century as a Scottish expression meaning “I will have nothing to do with you” [e.g. “Jamieson’s Dictionary of the Scottish Language”]. In English generally, the back of (one’s) hand has been used to imply contempt and rejection since at least 1300. Perhaps the connection of a menacing dismissal is what made Stevenson choose that particular anatomical reference.


late 15c., “to move (something) back,” from back (adv.). Meaning “to support” (as by a bet) is first attested 1540s. Related: Backed; backing.

Middle English, from back (n.) and back (adv.). Formerly with comparative backer (c.1400), also backermore. To be on the back burner in the figurative sense is from 1960, from the image of a cook keeping a pot there to simmer while he or she works on another concoction at the front of the stove.

late 14c., shortened from abak, from Old English on bæc “backwards, behind, aback” (see back (n.)). Back and forth attested from 1814.

back (bāk)

The posterior portion of the trunk of the human body between the neck and the pelvis; the dorsum.

The backbone or spine.


As a chaser: She wants whiskey with water back (1980s+)


(also backup or backup for a beef) Someone who will support and assist; a trusty ally (1980s+ Teenagers)


To give one’s support to some effort or person: I’ll back your application (1500s+)
To bet on: He backed Green Goo in the eighth (1600s+)
To contribute money for; bankroll: My cousin backed the rock show in the park (1880s+)

Related Terms

fishyback, get one’s or someone’s back up, get off someone’s back, get the monkey off, give someone the shirt off one’s back, knock back, laid-back, mellow-back, mossback, on someone’s back, piggyback, pin someone’s ears back, razorback, you scratch my back i scratch yours

back against the wall
back alley
back and fill
back and forth
back away
back burner, on a
back door
back down
back in circulation
back in harness
back number
back of
back of beyond
back of one’s hand
back of one’s mind
back off
back on one’s feet
back order
back out
back street
back the wrong horse
back to back
back to basics
back to the drawing board
back to the salt mines
back to the wall
back up
back water


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