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Anatomy. the spinal column; spine.
strength of character; resolution.
something resembling a backbone in appearance, position, or function.
Bookbinding. a back or bound edge of a book; spine.
Nautical. a rope running along the middle of an awning, as a reinforcement and as an object to which a supporting bridle or crowfoot may be attached.
Naval Architecture. the central fore-and-aft assembly of the keel and keelson, giving longitudinal strength to the bottom of a vessel.
Contemporary Examples

That timeline can serve as the backbone for the story our data tells.
The Best Quantified Self Site You Haven’t Heard Of Jamie Todd Rubin August 4, 2014

We, as the backbone of the Israeli peace camp need to reframe our political challenge.
Netanyahu is Our Man Gershon Baskin March 26, 2012

The Civil War hero Ulysses Grant dismissed Republican James Garfield for lacking “the backbone of an angleworm.”
Obama and Syria: Fighting the Wimp Factor Gil Troy September 17, 2013

“The INF Treaty is the backbone of protecting Europe from nuclear threats,” said a senior GOP Senate aide.
U.S. Knew Russia Violated Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty Josh Rogin November 25, 2013

Instead, the duo focused on what Democrats needed to do in 2002 to grow a backbone and win elections again.
Why the GOP Lost the Web Race Eric Boehlert May 19, 2009

Historical Examples

To kill without scent the backbone should be broken by a quick blow or the skunk should be drowned.
Fur Farming For Profit Hermon Basil Laymon

Among all the refugees, there is not one more loyal to the backbone than we.
Old News Nathaniel Hawthorne

Then with a sharp axe, standing behind the 138 suspended beef, split it down the backbone, severing it in half.
Housekeeping in Old Virginia Marion Cabell Tyree

She was a princess to the backbone, at all hours, and in all places.
The Memoirs of Louis XIV., His Court and The Regency, Complete Duc de Saint-Simon

We got the backbone apart and strung the hindquarters on a stake.
Diary of an Enlisted Man Lawrence Van Alstyne

a nontechnical name for spinal column
something that resembles the spinal column in function, position, or appearance
strength of character; courage
the main or central mountain range of a country or region
(nautical) the main longitudinal members of a vessel, giving structural strength
(computing) (in computer networks) a large-capacity, high-speed central section by which other network segments are connected

“spine,” early 14c., from back (n.) + bone (n.). Figurative sense of “strength of character” is attested from 1843.

backbone back·bone (bāk’bōn’)
See spinal column.
See vertebral column.

The primary line(s) that connects the slower, shorter cable portions of a communications network together. (See last mile.) In larger networks, such as the Internet, a backbone consists of high-capacity, high-speed lines that can extend over great distances.


Integrity and courage; fortitude: If you had any backbone, you would deal with him
The top level in a hierarchical network. Stub networks and transit networks which connect to the same backbone are guaranteed to be interconnected.
See also: Internet backbone.


Read Also:

  • Back of bourke

    a remote area or place.

  • Backbreaking

    demanding great effort, endurance, etc.; exhausting: a backbreaking job. Contemporary Examples According to political lore, patriot-Americans do the backbreaking work that keeps the country humming. A ‘Black President’ Is of No Value to America Rich Benjamin November 3, 2008 Historical Examples It will take some backbreaking investigation to get the whole story, because the files […]

  • Back burner

    a condition of low priority or temporary deferment (usually used in the phrase on the back burner): Put other issues on the back burner until after the election. Contemporary Examples And while his Town & Country photo shoot nearly broke the Internet, modeling is on the back burner: “Acting is my first priority.” Scott Eastwood […]

  • Back burner, on a

    In a position of low priority. For example, I haven’t forgotten his letter; I’ve just put it on a back burner for now. This term alludes to a cook’s putting items requiring less attention at the back of the stove. [ ; mid-1900s ] Also see: front burner

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