A Dictionary of the English Language
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Back (verb)

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 191

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 191

To Back. v.a. [from the noun back.]

  1. To mount on the back of a horse.

                That roan shall be my throne.
    Well I will back him strait. O Esperance!
    Bid Butler lead him forth into the park.
    Shak. Henry IV.

  2. To break a horse; to train him to bear upon his back.

    Direct us how to back the winged horse;
    Favour his flight, and moderate his course.
    Roscommon.

  3. To place upon the back.

                    As I slept, methought
    Great Jupiter, upon his eagle back'd,
    Appear'd to me.
    Shakesp. Cymbeline.

  4. To maintain; to strengthen.

                        Belike, he means,
    Back'd by the pow'r of Warwick, that false peer,
    T' aspire unto the crown.
    Shakesp. Henry VI.

    You are strait enough in the shoulders, you care not who sees your back: call you that backing of your friends? a plague upon such backing! give me them that will face me. Sh. H. VI.

    These were seconded by certain demilaunces, and both backed with men at arms. Sir J. Hayward.

    Did they not swear, in express words,
    To prop and back the house of lords?
    And after turn'd out the whole houseful.
    Hudibras.

    A great malice, backed with a great interest, can have no advantage of a man, but from his expectations of something without himself. South.

    How shall we treat this bold aspiring man?
    Success still follows him, and backs his crimes.
    Addis. Cato.

  5. To justify; to support.

    The patrons of the ternary number of principles, and those that would have five elements, endeavour to back their experiments with a specious reason. Boyle.

    We have I know not how many adages to back the reason of this moral. L'Estrange.

  6. To second.

    Factious, and sav'ring this or t'other side,
    Their wagers back their wishes.
    Dryden's Fables.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Boyle, Robert (84) · Butler, Samuel (98) · Shakespeare's Cymbeline (73) · Dillon, Wentworth (Roscommon) (31) · Dryden, John (788) · Hayward, John (42) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 (46) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3 (39) · L'Estrange, Roger (131) · South, Robert (158)

Attributes: Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Back (verb)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: June 27, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=13473.


  1. The quote beginning “You are strait enough in the shoulders, you care not who sees your back…” comes from Henry IV, Pt. 1 and not from one of the Henry VI plays.

  2. Brandi on June 13th, 2013 at 11:19 am

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