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.
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.