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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Human back
Illustration of a human back.
Posterior view of the thorax and shoulder girdle.
Latin dorsum
Gray's subject #281 1303
"Back" redirects here. For other uses, please see Back (disambiguation).

The human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the shoulders. It is the surface opposite to the chest, its height being defined by the vertebral column (commonly referred to as the spine or backbone) and its breadth being supported by the ribcage and shoulders. The spinal canal runs through the spine and provides nerves to the rest of the body.


Anatomy of the back

Skeletal structure of the back

The central feature of the human back is the vertebral column, specifically the length from the top of the thoracic vertebrae to the bottom of the lumbar vertebrae, which houses the spinal cord in its spinal canal, and which generally has some curvature that gives shape to the back. The ribcage extends from the spine at the top of the back (with the top of the ribcage corresponding to the T1 vertebra), more than halfway down the length of the back, leaving an area with less protection between the bottom of the ribcage and the hips. The width of the back at the top is defined by the scapula, the broad, flat bones of the shoulders.

Muscles of the back

The spine is bordered by several groups of muscles, including the intertransversarii muscle which facilitate movement between the individual vertebrae, and the multifidus spinae, which facilitate the movement of the spine as a whole.

Other muscles in the back are associated with the movement of the neck and shoulders. The trapezius muscle, which is named from its trapezium-like shape, runs between the neck, the anterior chain, the two shoulders, and the thoracic vertebra, T12. The large latissimus dorsi make a triangle from the shoulder to the hip.

Function of the back

The intricate anatomy of the back provides support for the head and trunk of the body, strength in the trunk of the body, as well as a great deal of flexibility and movement. The upper back has the most structural support, with the ribs attached firmly to each level of the thoracic spine and very limited movement. The lower back (lumbar vertebrae) allows for flexibility and movement in back bending (extension) and forward bending (flexion). It does not permit twisting.

Back pain

The back comprises interconnecting nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, all of which can be a source of pain. Back pain is one of the most common types of pain in adults. By far the most common cause of back pain is muscle strain. The back muscles can usually heal themselves within a couple of weeks, but the pain can be intense and debilitating. Other common sources of back pain include disc problems, such as degenerative disc disease or a lumbar disc herniation, many types of fractures, such as spondylolisthesis or an osteoporotic fracture, or osteoarthritis.

Organs of the back

The lungs are within the ribcage, and extend to the back of the ribcage, making it possible for them to be listened into through the back. The kidneys are situated beneath the muscles in the area below the end of the ribcage, loosely connected to the peritoneum. A strike to the lower back can damage the kidneys of the person being hit.

Surface of the back

The skin of the human back is thicker and has fewer nerve endings than the skin on any other part of the torso. With some notable exceptions (see, e.g. George "The Animal" Steele), it tends to have less hair than the chest on men. The upper-middle back is also the one area of the body which a typical human under normal conditions might be unable to physically touch. When this area is itchy, a backscratcher can be used to ease the discomfort.

Significance in human society

Painting of a woman's back by Edgar Degas.
A tattoo on the lower back. See tramp stamp.
A substantial area of scar tissue on the back of an oft-whipped slave.

The curvature of the female back is a frequent theme in paintings, because the sensibilities of many cultures permit the back to be shown nude - implying full nudity without actually displaying it. Indeed, the practice of showing explicitness on the lower back has been performed for centuries. Certain articles of clothing, such as the haltertop and the backless dress, are designed to expose the back in this manner. The back also serves as the largest canvas for body art on the human body. Because of its size and the relative lack of hair, the back presents an ideal canvas on the human body for lower back tattoos. Indeed, some individuals have tattoos that cover the entirety of the back. Others have smaller tattoos at significant locations, such as the shoulder blade or the bottom of the back.

Many English idioms mention the back, usually highlighting it as an area of vulnerability; one must "watch one's back", or one may end up "with one's back up against the wall"; worse yet, someone may "stab one in the back", but hopefully a friend "has got one's back". The back is also a symbol of strength and hard work, with those seeking physical labor looking for "strong backs", and workers being implored to "put their back into it".

Historically, flagellation of a person across the back with a whip was both a common form of punishment of criminals, and a common means of forcing slaves to work.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to back article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


See also bäck



Wikipedia has an article on:


Most common English words: think « life « went « #132: back » under » same » take


Old English bæc, from Proto-Germanic *bakom. The adverb represents an aphetic form of aback.





back (plural backs)

  1. The rear of body, especially the part between the neck and the end of the spine and opposite the chest and belly.
    Could you please scratch my back?
  2. The spine and associated tissues.
    I hurt my back lifting that dictionary.
  3. The side of any object which is opposite the front or useful side.
    Turn the book over and look at the back.
  4. The reverse side; the side that is not normally seen.
    I hung the clothes on the back of the door.
  5. That which is farthest away from the front.
    He sat in the back of the room.
  6. Area behind, such as the backyard of a house
    We'll meet out in the back of the library.
  7. The part of something that goes last.
    The car was near the back of the train.
  8. The side of a blade opposite the side used for cutting.
    Tap it with the back of your knife.
  9. The part of a piece of clothing which covers the back.
    I still need to finish the back of your dress.
  10. The edge of a book which is bound.
    The titles are printed on the backs of the books.
  11. The backrest, the part of a piece of furniture which receives the human back.
    Can you fix the back of this chair?
  12. (figuratively) Upper part of a natural object which is considered to resemble an animal's back.
    The small boat raced over the backs of the waves.
  13. (obsolete) That part of the body that bears clothing.
  14. (sports) In some team sports, a position behind most players on the team.
    The backs were lined up in an I formation.
  15. (nautical) The keel and keelson of a ship.
    The ship's back broke in the pounding surf.
  16. (printing) The inside margin of a page.
    • 1841, William Savage, A Dictionary of the Art of Printing[1], 1965 Ayer Publishing ed., ISBN 0833731289, page 472:
      Convenience and custom have familiarised us to the printed page being a little higher than the middle of the leaf, and to its having a little more margin at the fore edge than in the back.
  17. (mining) The roof of a horizontal underground passage.
    • 1911, Robert Bruce Brinsmade, Mining Without Timber[2], page 161:
      The stope is kept full of broken ore, sufficient only being drawn to leave a working space between the floor of broken ore and the back of the stope.
  18. (slang, uncountable) Effort, usually physical.
    Put some back into it!
  19. (slang, uncountable) Large and attractive buttocks.
    • 2002, George Pelecanos, Right as Rain: A Novel[3], ISBN 0446610798, page 123:
      He got his hand on her behind and caressed her firm, ample flesh. [] "You got some back on you, girl."



  • (side opposite the front or useful side): front
  • (that which is farthest away from the front): front


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


back (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Near the rear.
    Go in the back door of the house.
  2. Not current.
    I’d like to find a back issue of that magazine.
  3. Far from the main area.
    They took a back road.
    That chore has been in the back of my mind for weeks.
  4. (comparable) (phonetics) Produced in the back of the mouth.
    "U" in "rude" is a back vowel.




The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Derived terms


to back

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to back (third-person singular simple present backs, present participle backing, simple past and past participle backed)

  1. To go in the reverse direction.
    The train backed into the station.
  2. To support.
    I back you all the way.
  3. (nautical, of the wind) the change direction contrary to its normal pattern (anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere, clockwise in the southern)
  4. (nautical, of a square sail) to brace the yards so that the wind presses on the front of the sail, to slow the ship
  5. (nautical, of an anchor) to lay out a second, smaller anchor to provide additional holding power



back (comparative further back, superlative furthest back)


further back

furthest back

  1. (Not comparable) To or in a previous condition or place.
    He gave back the money.
    He needs his money back
    He was on vacation, but now he’s back.
    The office fell into chaos when you left, but now order is back.
  2. Away from the front or from an edge.
    Sit all the way back in your chair.
    Step back from the curb.
  3. In a manner that impedes.
    Fear held him back.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Derived terms




Inflection for back Singular Plural
common Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Base form back backen backar backarna
Possessive form backs backens backars backarnas

back c.

  1. crate; storage of bottles
  2. back; position behind most players on the team
  3. reverse; car gear


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Werner Back article)

From Wikispecies

Werner Back

Entomologist, Germany

Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

The word back has several meanings.

  • It is a part of the human body.
  • It can mean behind something.
  • It is the opposite of front.

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