AskDefine | Define back

Dictionary Definition

back adj
1 related to or located at the back; "the back yard"; "the back entrance" [syn: back(a)] [ant: front(a)]
2 located at or near the back of an animal; "back (or hind) legs"; "the hinder part of a carcass" [syn: back(a), hind(a), hinder(a)]
3 of an earlier date; "back issues of the magazine" [syn: back(a)]

Noun

1 the posterior part of a human (or animal) body from the neck to the end of the spine; "his back was nicely tanned" [syn: dorsum]
2 the side that goes last or is not normally seen; "he wrote the date on the back of the photograph" [syn: rear] [ant: front]
3 the part of something that is furthest from the normal viewer; "he stood at the back of the stage"; "it was hidden in the rear of the store" [syn: rear] [ant: front]
4 (football) a person who plays in the backfield
5 the series of vertebrae forming the axis of the skeleton and protecting the spinal cord; "the fall broke his back" [syn: spinal column, vertebral column, spine, backbone, rachis]
6 the front and back covering of a book; "the book had a leather binding" [syn: binding, book binding, cover]
7 the part of a garment that covers your back; "they pinned a `kick me' sign on his back"
8 a support that you can lean against while sitting; "the back of the dental chair was adjustable" [syn: backrest]
9 the position of a player on a football team who is stationed behind the line of scrimmage adv
1 in or to or toward a former location; "she went back to her parents' house"
2 at or to or toward the back or rear; "he moved back"; "tripped when he stepped backward"; "she looked rearward out the window of the car" [syn: backward, backwards, rearward, rearwards] [ant: forward]
3 in or to or toward an original condition; "he went back to sleep"
4 in or to or toward a past time; "set the clocks back an hour"; "never look back"; "lovers of the past looking fondly backward" [syn: backward] [ant: ahead, ahead]
5 in answer; "he wrote back three days later"; "had little to say in reply to the questions" [syn: in reply]
6 in repayment or retaliation; "we paid back everything we had borrowed"; "he hit me and I hit him back"; "I was kept in after school for talking back to the teacher"

Verb

1 be behind; approve of; "He plumped for the Labor Party"; "I backed Kennedy in 1960" [syn: endorse, indorse, plump for, plunk for, support]
2 travel backward; "back into the driveway"; "The car backed up and hit the tree"
3 give support or one's approval to; "I'll second that motion"; "I can't back this plan"; "endorse a new project" [syn: second, endorse, indorse]
4 cause to travel backward; "back the car into the parking spot" [ant: advance]
5 support financial backing for; "back this enterprise"
6 be in back of; "My garage backs their yard" [ant: front]
7 place a bet on; "Which horse are you backing?"; "I'm betting on the new horse" [syn: bet on, gage, stake, game, punt]
8 shift to a counterclockwise direction; "the wind backed" [ant: veer]
9 establish as valid or genuine; "Can you back up your claims?" [syn: back up]
10 strengthen by providing with a back or backing

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

bæc

Pronunciation

  • /bæk/, /b

Extensive Definition

"Back" redirects here. For other uses, please see Back (disambiguation).
The human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the shoulders. It is the surface opposite to the chest, its height being defined by the vertebral column (commonly referred to as the spine or backbone) and its breadth being supported by the ribcage and shoulders. The spinal canal runs through the spine and provides nerves to the rest of the body.

Anatomy of the back

Skeletal structure of the back

The central feature of the human back is the vertebral column, specifically the length from the top of the thoracic vertebrae to the bottom of the lumbar vertebrae, which houses the spinal cord in its spinal canal, and which generally has some curvature that gives shape to the back. The ribcage extends from the spine at the top of the back (with the top of the ribcage corresponding to the T1 vertebra), more than halfway down the length of the back, leaving an area with less protection between the bottom of the ribcage and the hips. The width of the back at the top is defined by the scapula, the broad, flat bones of the shoulders.

Muscles of the back

The spine is bordered by several groups of muscles, including the intertransversarii muscle which facilitate movement between the individual vertabrae, and the multifidus spinae, which facilitate the movement of the spine as a whole.
Other muscles in the back are associated with the movement of the neck and shoulders. The trapezius muscle, which is named from its trapezium-like shape, runs between the neck, the anterior chain, the two shoulders, and the thoracic vertebra, T12. The large latissimus dorsi make a triangle from the shoulder to the hip. The significant mass of muscles in the back can be developed through back exercises.

Function of the back

The intricate anatomy of the back provides support for the head and trunk of the body, strength in the trunk of the body, as well as a great deal of flexibility and movement. The upper back has the most structural support, with the ribs attached firmly to each level of the thoracic spine and very limited movement. The lower back (lumbar vertabrae) allows for flexibility and movement in backbending (extension) and forward bending (flexion). It does not permit twisting.

Back pain

The back comprises interconnecting nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, all of which can be a source of pain. Back pain is one of the most common types of pain in adults. By far the most common cause of back pain is muscle strain. The back muscles can usually heal themselves within a couple of weeks, but the pain can be intense and debilitating. Other common sources of back pain include disc problems, such as degenerative disc disease or a lumbar disc herniation, many types of fractures, such as spondylolisthesis or an osteoporotic fracture, or osteoarthritis.

Organs of the back

The lungs are within the ribcage, and extend to the back of the ribcage, making it possible for them to be listened into through the back. The kidneys are situated beneath the muscles in the area below the end of the ribcage, loosely connected to the peritoneum. A strike to the lower back can damage the kidneys of the person being hit.

Surface of the back

The skin of the human back is thicker and has fewer nerve endings than the skin on any other part of the torso. With some notable exceptions (see, e.g. George "The Animal" Steele), it tends to have less hair than the chest on men. The upper-middle back is also the one area of the body which a typical human under normal conditions might be unable to physically touch. When this area is itchy, a backscratcher can be used to ease the discomfort.

Significance in human society

The curvature of the female back is a frequent theme in paintings, because the sensibilities of many cultures permit the back to be shown nude - implying full nudity without actually displaying it. Indeed, the practice of showing explicitness on the lower back has been performed for centuries. Certain articles of clothing, such as the haltertop and the backless dress, are designed to expose the back in this manner. The back also serves as the largest canvas for body art on the human body. Because of its size and the relative lack of hair, the back presents an ideal canvas on the human body for Lower back tattoos. Indeed, some individuals have tattoos that cover the entirety of the back. Others have smaller tattoos at significant locations, such as the shoulder blade or the bottom of the back.
Many English idioms mention the back, usually highlighting it as an area of vulnerability; one must "watch one's back", or one may end up "with one's back up against the wall"; worse yet, someone may "stab one in the back", but hopefully a friend "has got one's back". The back is also a symbol of strength and hard work, with those seeking physical labor looking for "strong backs", and workers being implored to "put their back into it".
back in Arabic: ظهر
back in Aymara: Jikhani
back in Pennsylvania German: Buckel
back in German: Rücken
back in Spanish: Espalda
back in Esperanto: Dorso
back in French: Dos
back in Hebrew: גב
back in Latin: Dorsum
back in Dutch: Rug (anatomie)
back in Japanese: 背中
back in Polish: Plecy
back in Portuguese: Costas
back in Quechua: Wasa
back in Finnish: Selkä
back in Swedish: Rygg
back in Vlaams: Rik
back in Yiddish: רוקן

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

a priori, a rebours, a reculons, abandon, abet, accented, acknowledgments, advance, advocate, affirm, afford support, aft, after, aftermost, afterpart, afterpiece, again, against the grain, ago, aid, alpenstock, alveolar, alveolar ridge, alveolus, angel, ante, ante up, anticlockwise, apex, apical, apico-alveolar, apico-dental, arear, arena, arm, around, arrested, articulated, arytenoid cartilages, ascend, ascender, ascending, aside, ass-backwards, assimilated, assist, assure, astern, athletic supporter, attest, authenticate, away, axial, back away, back door, back matter, back of beyond, back off, back seat, back side, back up, back when, back-country, back-flowing, backbone, backdrop, background, backing, backpedal, backside, backstop, backtrack, backtrail, backward, backwards, backwater, backwood, backwoods, backwoodsy, bandeau, bankroll, bankrupt, barytone, bastard title, bastard type, be sponsor for, bear, bear out, bear up, beard, bearer, behind, behindhand, belated, belly, bestraddle, bestride, bet, bet on, bevel, bibliography, bilabial, black letter, blade, blocked, board, body, bolster, bolster up, bond, boost, bra, brace, bracer, bracket, brassiere, break, breech, broad, budge, buoy up, buttress, by, cacuminal, call, cane, cap, capital, capitalize, carrier, carry, case, cast off, catch line, catchword, central, cerebral, certify, cervix, champion, change, change place, chasing, checked, circle, circumstantiate, climb, climb on, close, colophon, come after, come last, commend, confirm, consonant, consonantal, contents, contents page, continuant, copyright page, corroborate, corset, counter, counterclockwise, countermarch, countersecure, cover, cradle, crook, crush, crutch, cry up, cushion, deceitfully, dedication, defeat, delayed, delayed-action, dental, deny, descend, descender, descending, destroy, detained, disavow, disown, disregard, dissimilated, distance, distant, document, dorsal, dorsal region, dorsum, down-trending, downward, drifting, due, early, ebb, elect, em, en, encourage, endleaf, endorse, endpaper, endsheet, ensure, errata, ex post facto, extremity, face, fade, fail, fall astern, fall back, fall behind, fat-faced type, feet, field, finance, flat, flow, flowing, fluent, flying, flyleaf, folio, follow, following, font, for a consideration, fore edge, foreword, forsake, fortify, foundation garment, fro, front, front matter, frontier, fulcrum, fund, furtively, gamble, get behind, get in, get in behind, get on, get over, girdle, give support, glide, glossal, glottal, go, go aboard, go around, go astern, go back, go back on, go backwards, go into reverse, go on board, go round, go sideways, going, gone by, groove, ground, grubstake, guarantee, guaranty, guttural, guy, guywire, gyrate, gyrational, gyratory, half-title page, hard, hard palate, hard pressed, hazard, head, heavy, heel, held up, help, helpless, high, hind, hind end, hind part, hinder, hindermost, hindhand, hindhead, hindmost, hindward, hindwards, hinterland, hold, hold up, hop in, hung up, hype, ignore, imprint, in a bind, in abeyance, in arrear, in arrears, in back of, in compensation, in consideration, in reserve, in return, in reverse, in times past, index, inscription, insidiously, insure, into the past, intonated, introduction, invest in, isolated, italic, jammed, jock, jockstrap, jump in, keep afloat, keep up, labial, labiodental, labiovelar, lag behind, larynx, late, lateral, latish, lax, lay, lay a wager, lay down, leaf, lend support, letter, ligature, light, lingual, lips, liquid, locale, logotype, loin, low, lower case, mainstay, maintain, maintainer, majuscule, make a bet, make sternway, makeup, mast, master, mature, meet a bet, mid, minuscule, mise-en-scene, monophthongal, moratory, mount, mounting, move, move over, muted, narrow, nasal, nasal cavity, nasalized, neck, never on time, nick, nominate, obstructed, occiput, occlusive, open, oral cavity, outback, outlandish, outlying, outstanding, overcome, overdue, owed, owing, oxytone, page, palatal, palatalized, palate, parlay, pass, passing, past due, patronize, pay for, payable, pharyngeal, pharyngeal cavity, pharyngealized, pharynx, phonemic, phonetic, phonic, pi, pica, pile in, pillow, pitch, pitched, play against, plug, plunge, plunging, point, posterior, postern, posttonic, preface, preliminaries, primitive, print, privately, probate, progress, progressive, promote, prop, prove, provide for, puff, punt, pursuing, rachis, ratify, raw, rear, rear end, rearmost, rearward, rearwards, receivable, recommend, recto, redeemable, refinance, reflex, reflowing, refluent, regress, regressive, reinforce, reinforcement, reinforcer, reject, reminiscently, remote, renege, repudiate, rest, resting place, retarded, retract, retrad, retral, retreat, retroactive, retroactively, retrocede, retroflex, retrograde, retrogress, retrogressive, retrospective, retrospectively, reverse, reversed, reverso, revert, ridge, rigging, rigidify, rise, rising, roman, rotary, rotate, rotational, rotatory, rough, round, round about, rounded, ruin, run, run interference for, running, running title, rushing, sans serif, scene, screw up, script, second, secretly, secure, see, semivowel, service, set up, setting, shank, shift, shore, shore up, shoulder, shroud, side with, sideward, sign, sign for, signature, since, sink, sinking, slow, slyly, small cap, small capital, sneakily, soar, soaring, soft, soft palate, sonant, speak highly of, speak warmly of, speak well of, speech organ, spin, spinal column, spine, sponsor, sprit, staff, stage, stage set, stage setting, stake, stamp, stand back of, stand behind, stand by, stand pat, stand up for, standing rigging, stave, stay, stem, stern, stick, stick by, stick up for, stiffen, stiffener, stir, stopped, stream, streaming, strengthen, strengthener, stressed, strong, subscribe to, subside, subsidize, substantiate, subtitle, subvene, subvention, support, supporter, surd, surreptitiously, sustain, sustainer, syllabic, sylvan, syrinx, table of contents, tail, tail end, tailpiece, take sides with, tardy, teeth, teeth ridge, tense, text, theater, thick, throaty, tighten, tip, title, title page, to the rear, tonal, tongue, tonic, tout, trail, trail behind, travel, treacherously, trice up, trim size, turned around, twangy, type, type body, type class, type lice, type page, typecase, typeface, typefounders, typefoundry, unaccented, uncivilized, uncultivated, underbrace, undergird, underlie, underpin, underset, undersign, underwrite, undeveloped, uninhabited, unoccupied, unpaid, unpopulated, unpunctual, unready, unrounded, unsettled, unstressed, untimely, up-country, up-trending, upbear, uphold, upholder, upkeep, upper case, upward, validate, vanquish, velar, velum, verify, verso, vertebrae, vertebral column, virgin, vocal chink, vocal cords, vocal folds, vocal processes, vocalic, vocoid, voice box, voiced, voiceless, vote, vowel, vowellike, wager, walking stick, wane, warrant, waste, weak, whirl, widdershins, wide, wild, wilderness, withdraw from, without hope, woodland, wrong-way, wrong-way around
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