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

back idioms list

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

  • backbreaking
    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.

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

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.