The back is located at the rear of the body between the shoulders and the hips. The plural is ‘backs’.

idioms with the body part ‘back’

Let’s look at some popular body idioms that contain the body part ‘back’.


I’ve added the meaning and a picture example too.

idiomatic expressions with body parts - back
back idioms - back to back
back idioms - backbreaking
back idioms - behind someone's back
back idioms - break one’s back
back idioms - get off someone's back
back idioms - get someone's back up
back idioms - give someone the shirt off one’s back
back idioms - glad to see the back of
back idioms - grow a backbone
back idioms - have one's back against the wall
back idioms - make a rod for one’s own back
back idioms - on someone’s back
back idioms - pat on the back
back idioms - piggyback
back idioms - put one's back into it
back idioms - scratch someone's back
back idioms - stab someone in the back
back idioms - the straw that broke the camel's back
back idioms - turn one's back on
back idioms - watch one’s back
back idioms - water off a duck’s back

backbreaking – physically demanding
e.g. We’ve done a lot of backbreaking work in the garden. We deserve a beer.

back to back – next to each other with backs touching
e.g. I watched all of the season 3 episodes back to back. It was amazing.

behind someone’s back – without someone’s knowledge/consent
e.g. The whole class make fun of Jimmy behind his back. They are really nasty.

break one’s back – work really hard/put in a lot of effort
e.g. I’m breaking my back trying to arrange our wedding.

get off someone’s back – stop annoying/bothering someone
e.g. Sarah should get off Harry’s back. He’ll finish with her if she doesn’t stop being annoying.

get someone’s back up – make someone angry
e.g. Tilly is getting everyone’s backs up. It wouldn’t surprise me if she is removed from the panel.

give someone the shirt off one’s back – a generous person
e.g. I can always count on my uncle. He’d give me the shirt off his back.

glad to see the back of – be pleased when someone leaves
e.g. I’m glad to see the back of winter, it’s been very cold this year.

grow a backbone – stop being a wimp and stick up for yourself and your beliefs
e.g. Melody should grow a backbone. She isn’t employed to make the coffees.

have one’s back against the wall – you are in a difficult situation and have no other options
e.g. I’m in so much debt, my back is against the wall. The bailiffs are coming tomorrow.

make a rod for one’s own back – do something now that will cause problems in the future
e.g. He’s making a rod for his own back by letting his kids play on the tablet all night.

on someone’s back – constantly criticise/pester/annoy someone
e.g. The neighbours are on our backs about parking too close to their driveway.

pat on the back – praise for doing something good
e.g. Well done class, you all passed the test. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

put one’s back into it – use a lot of effort/force
e.g. The jar is a bit tight, put your back into it.

scratch someone’s back – do someone a favour so they will return the favour one day
e.g. I’ll drive tonight and you can drink. You’ve scratched my back loads of times.

stab someone in the back – betray someone
e.g. I’ll stab my colleagues in the back to get promoted.

sun shines out of someone’s backside – love/admire someone so much you don’t see their faults
e.g. The sun doesn’t shine out of his backside, he’s a liar and a cheat.

the straw that broke the camel’s back/the last straw – the final small thing that causes failure
e.g. Callum arrived late again. That was the last straw, he was fired immediately.

turn back the hands of time – rewind time, remember and earlier time
e.g. I’ll be turning back the hands of time by wearing leg warmers and a shell suit to the party.

turn one’s back on someone – refuse to help someone in need or stop giving attention to something
e.g. I turned my back on my law career and bought a farm in the countryside.

watch one’s back – be careful
e.g. Aaron needs to watch his back, he’s getting on the wrong side of a lot of people.

water off a duck’s back – insults, criticism etc. have no effect on a person
e.g. All the criticism is like water off a duck’s back to Henry. He just tries even harder.