back idioms list
Let’s look at some popular body idioms that contain the body part ‘back’.
meaning – physically demanding
example – We’ve done a lot of backbreaking work in the garden. We deserve a beer.
- back to back
meaning – next to each other with backs touching
example – I watched all of the season 3 episodes back to back. It was amazing.
- behind someone’s back
meaning – without someone’s knowledge/consent
example – The whole class make fun of Jimmy behind his back. They are really nasty.
- break one’s back
meaning – work really hard/put in a lot of effort
example – I’m breaking my back trying to arrange our wedding.
- get off someone’s back
meaning – stop annoying/bothering someone
example – Sarah should get off Harry’s back. He’ll finish with her if she doesn’t stop being annoying.
- get someone’s back up
meaning – make someone angry
example – 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
meaning – a generous person
example – I can always count on my uncle. He’d give me the shirt off his back.
- glad to see the back of
meaning – be pleased when someone leaves
example – I’m glad to see the back of winter, it’s been very cold this year.
- grow a backbone
meaning – stop being a wimp and stick up for yourself and your beliefs
example – Melody should grow a backbone. She isn’t employed to make the coffees.
- have one’s back against the wall
meaning – you are in a difficult situation and have no other options
example – 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
meaning – do something now that will cause problems in the future
example – He’s making a rod for his own back by letting his kids play on the tablet all night.
- on someone’s back
meaning – constantly criticise/pester/annoy someone
example – The neighbours are on our backs about parking too close to their driveway.
- pat on the back
meaning – praise for doing something good
example – Well done class, you all passed the test. Give yourselves a pat on the back.
- put one’s back into it
meaning – use a lot of effort/force
example – The jar is a bit tight, put your back into it.
- scratch someone’s back
meaning – do someone a favour so they will return the favour one day
example – I’ll drive tonight and you can drink. You’ve scratched my back loads of times.
- stab someone in the back
meaning – betray someone
example – I’ll stab my colleagues in the back to get promoted.
- sun shines out of someone’s backside
meaning – love/admire someone so much you don’t see their faults
example – 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
meaning – the final small thing that causes failure
example – Callum arrived late again. That was the last straw, he was fired immediately.
- turn back the hands of time
meaning – rewind time, remember and earlier time
example – 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
meaning – refuse to help someone in need or stop giving attention to something
example – I turned my back on my law career and bought a farm in the countryside.
- watch one’s back
meaning – be careful
example – Aaron needs to watch his back, he’s getting on the wrong side of a lot of people.
- water off a duck’s back
meaning – insults, criticism etc. have no effect on a person
example – All the criticism is like water off a duck’s back to Henry. He just tries even harder.
back idioms list with pictures
Now let’s see some real-life picture examples.
You can download a table of ‘back’ idioms and expressions below.
If you’ve enjoyed this page, don’t forget to check out some more body idioms by clicking on the links below.