Webster's Dictionary, 1913

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Back fire (a) A fire started ahead of a forest or prairie fire to burn only against the wind, so that when the two fires meet both must go out for lack of fuel. (b) A premature explosion in the cylinder of a gas or oil engine during the exhaust or the compression stroke, tending to drive the piston in a direction reverse to that in which it should travel; also, an explosion in the exhaust passages of such ah engine.

Back stairs (-stârz`) noun . Stairs in the back part of a house, as distinguished from the front stairs ; hence, a private or indirect way.

Back-fire intransitive verb
1. (Engineering) To have or experience a back fire or back fires; -- said of an internal-combustion engine.

2. Of a Bunsen or similar air-fed burner, to light so that the flame proceeds from the internal gas jet instead of from the external jet of mixed gas and air. -- Back"- fir`ing , noun

Backarack (băk"ȧ*răk) noun See Bacharach .

Backare interj. Same as Baccare .

Backband (-bănd) noun [ 2d back , noun + band .] (Saddlery) The band which passes over the back of a horse and holds up the shafts of a carriage.

Backbite transitive verb [ 2d back , noun + bite .] To wound by clandestine detraction; to censure meanly or spitefully (an absent person); to slander or speak evil of (one absent). Spenser.

Backbite intransitive verb To censure or revile the absent.

They are arrant knaves, and will backbite .
Shak.

Backbiter noun One who backbites; a secret calumniator or detractor.

Backbiting noun Secret slander; detraction.

Backbiting , and bearing of false witness.
Piers Plowman.

Backboard noun [ 2d back , noun + board .]


1. A board which supports the back when one is sitting;

specifically, the board athwart the after part of a boat.

2. A board serving as the back part of anything, as of a wagon.

3. A thin stuff used for the backs of framed pictures, mirrors, etc.

4. A board attached to the rim of a water wheel to prevent the water from running off the floats or paddles into the interior of the wheel. W. Nicholson.

5. A board worn across the back to give erectness to the figure. Thackeray.

Backbond (-bŏnd`) noun [ Back , adverb + bond .] (Scots Law) An instrument which, in conjunction with another making an absolute disposition, constitutes a trust.

Backbone (-bōn`) noun [ 2d back , noun + bone .]


1. The column of bones in the back which sustains and gives firmness to the frame; the spine; the vertebral or spinal column.

2. Anything like, or serving the purpose of, a backbone.

The lofty mountains on the north side compose the granitic axis, or backbone of the country.
Darwin.

We have now come to the backbone of our subject.
Earle.

3. Firmness; moral principle; steadfastness.

Shelley's thought never had any backbone .
Shairp.

To the backbone , through and through; thoroughly; entirely. "Staunch to the backbone ." Lord Lytton.

Backboned adjective Vertebrate.

Backcast (-kȧst`) noun [ Back , adverb + cast .] Anything which brings misfortune upon one, or causes failure in an effort or enterprise; a reverse. [ Scot.]

Backdoor adjective Acting from behind and in concealment; backstairs; as, backdoor intrigues.

Backdown noun A receding or giving up; a complete surrender. [ Colloq.]

Backed (băkt) adjective Having a back; fitted with a back; as, a backed electrotype or stereotype plate. Used in composition; as, broad- backed ; hump- backed .

Backer (băk"ẽr) noun One who, or that which, backs; especially one who backs a person or thing in a contest.

Backfall (-fal`) noun [ 2d back , noun + fall .] A fall or throw on the back in wrestling.

Backfriend noun [ Back , noun or adverb + friend .] A secret enemy. [ Obsolete] South.

Backgammon noun [ Origin unknown; perhaps from Danish bakke tray + English game ; or very likely the first part is from English back , adverb , and the game is so called because the men are often set back .] A game of chance and skill, played by two persons on a "board" marked off into twenty-four spaces called "points". Each player has fifteen pieces, or "men", the movements of which from point to point are determined by throwing dice. Formerly called tables .

Backgammon board , a board for playing backgammon, often made in the form of two rectangular trays hinged together, each tray containing two "tables".

Backgammon transitive verb In the game of backgammon, to beat by ending the game before the loser is clear of his first "table".

Background noun [ Back , adjective + ground .]


1. Ground in the rear or behind, or in the distance, as opposed to the foreground , or the ground in front .

2. (Paint.) The space which is behind and subordinate to a portrait or group of figures.

» The distance in a picture is usually divided into foreground, middle distance, and background . Fairholt.

3. Anything behind, serving as a foil; as, the statue had a background of red hangings.

4. A place in obscurity or retirement, or out of sight.

I fancy there was a background of grinding and waiting before Miss Torry could produce this highly finished . . . performance.
Mrs. Alexander.

A husband somewhere in the background .
Thackeray.

To place in the background , to make of little consequence.

Backhand noun [ Back , adverb + hand .] A kind of handwriting in which the downward slope of the letters is from left to right.

Backhand adjective
1. Sloping from left to right; -- said of handwriting.

2. Backhanded; indirect; oblique. [ R.]

Backhanded adjective
1. With the hand turned backward; as, a backhanded blow.

2. Indirect; awkward; insincere; sarcastic; as, a backhanded compliment.

3. Turned back, or inclining to the left; as, backhanded letters.

Backhandedness noun State of being backhanded; the using of backhanded or indirect methods.

Backhander noun A backhanded blow.

Backheel noun (Wrestling) A method of tripping by getting the leg back of the opponent's heel on the outside and pulling forward while pushing his body back; a throw made in this way. -- transitive verb To trip (a person) in this way.

Backhouse noun [ Back , adjective + house .] A building behind the main building. Specifically: A privy; a necessary.

Backing noun
1. The act of moving backward, or of putting or moving anything backward.

2. That which is behind, and forms the back of, anything, usually giving strength or stability.

3. Support or aid given to a person or cause.

4. (Bookbinding) The preparation of the back of a book with glue, etc., before putting on the cover.

Backjoint noun [ Back , adjective or adverb + joint .] (Architecture) A rebate or chase in masonry left to receive a permanent slab or other filling.

Backlash (-lăsh`) noun [ Back , adverb + lash .] (Mech.) The distance through which one part of connected machinery, as a wheel, piston, or screw, can be moved without moving the connected parts, resulting from looseness in fitting or from wear; also, the jarring or reflex motion caused in badly fitting machinery by irregularities in velocity or a reverse of motion.

Backless adjective Without a back.

Backlog (-lŏg`; 115) noun [ Back , adjective + log .] A large stick of wood, forming the back of a fire on the hearth. [ U.S.]

There was first a backlog , from fifteen to four and twenty inches in diameter and five feet long, imbedded in the ashes.
S. G. Goodrich.

Backpiece, Backplate noun [ Back , noun or adjective + piece , plate .] A piece, or plate, which forms the back of anything, or which covers the back; armor for the back.

Backrack (băk"răk), Back"rag (băk"răg) noun See Bacharach .

Backs (băks) noun plural Among leather dealers, the thickest and stoutest tanned hides.

Backsaw (băk"sa`) noun [ 2d back , noun + saw .] A saw (as a tenon saw) whose blade is stiffened by an added metallic back.

Backset (-sĕt`) noun [ Back , adverb + set .]
1. A check; a relapse; a discouragement; a setback.

2. Whatever is thrown back in its course, as water.

Slackwater, or the backset caused by the overflow.
Harper's Mag.

Backset transitive verb To plow again, in the fall; -- said of prairie land broken up in the spring. [ Western U.S.]

Backsettler (-sĕt"lẽr) noun [ Back , adjective + settler .] One living in the back or outlying districts of a community.

The English backsettlers of Leinster and Munster.
Macaulay.

Backsheesh Back"shish` noun [ Pers. bakhshīsh , from bakhshīdan to give.] In Egypt and the Turkish empire, a gratuity; a "tip".

Backside (-sīd`) noun [ Back , adjective + side .] The hinder part, posteriors, or rump of a person or animal.

» Backside (one word) was formerly used of the rear part or side of any thing or place, but in such senses is now two words.

Backsight (-sīt`) noun [ Back , adverb + sight .] (Surv.) The reading of the leveling staff in its unchanged position when the leveling instrument has been taken to a new position; a sight directed backwards to a station previously occupied. Confer Foresight , noun , 3.

Backslide (-slīd"; 277) intransitive verb [ imperfect Backslid ; past participle Backslidden Backslid ; present participle & verbal noun Backsliding .] [ Back , adverb + slide .] To slide back; to fall away; esp. to abandon gradually the faith and practice of a religion that has been professed.

Backslider noun One who backslides.

Backsliding adjective Slipping back; falling back into sin or error; sinning.

Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord.
Jer. iii. 14.

Backsliding noun The act of one who backslides; abandonment of faith or duty.

Our backslidings are many.
Jer. xiv. 7.