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backofchair.jpgMany words in the English language are abstract and confusing for the dyslexic student. One major reason is words can have have multiple meanings.

For instance, the word "back". When you say "move back" or "stand back" are they the same thing? On a horse there is the physical position "back or backside of the horse" and then the "back of a horse" which is a part of the horse. The "back of a horse" is also the top. And just to be more confusing "we rode the horses back to the ranch"!

How about the word "back" when it's used in sports? "The "quarter-back" pulled his arm back to pass the ball back to the "full-back" or to the "half-back".

Or body actions: "back hand", "back flip", "back step","backwards". Then there is "back on track" and "back-track, "back from the dead", "scale back" and "back the right man","back to back", "background" (which has many meanings by itself), "back up", "I'm back", "back off", "stand back", "back soon", and of course, "back to school".backtosoon.jpg

The right-brained student must change words into concrete images first to understand them and then needs to know whether we are talking about a name, a direction, a position, an action, etc.

So what do they see in each case of the word "back" given above? Do they understand the multiple meanings? If I asked you to stand in front of a chair and tell me which part of it is the "back" how do you know which meaning I'm looking for? Is it "the back of the chair" where you sit and lean back on or "back of the chair" (behind) or "the back of the front of the chair" or a "back rest"?

It is important to be clear with a dyslexic child or adult about the meaning of what we write or say. A right-brained person can interpret a statement or story in many ways and become easily confused and frustrated. So as a parent, teacher, tutor, friend or employer of a dyslexic be clear about what you are doing or asking them. They will be thankful, capable of understanding what is going on and consequently able to respond correctly.

What a crazy language we have! "Turn the clock back", "back to the past", "back to the future" "back-talk", "backboard", "back of the line", "back to front", "backing up", "backer".

Try other words such as "left" and play the game with a dyslexic person in your life. You will probably be surprised at how many you can think of.

We have provided the ENCARTA DICTIONARY" definitions of "back" to demonstrate how one word can have many meanings and some the opposite of each other. For a Dyslexic student, this can make a very confusing world and probably other children also.


back [ bak ]

noun (plural backs) Definition:

1. anatomy rear part of body: the rear part of the human body between the neck and the pelvis carrying a baby on her back back pain

2. anatomy spine: the spinal column

3. anatomy area of vertebrate's body: the area of a vertebrate animal's body on each side of the backbone

4. part at rear: the part that is at the rear of something or is farthest from the front Someone at the back of the crowd called out.

5. side not usually seen: the side of something such as a sheet of paper or a photograph that carries less information or is away from the viewer

6. part of garment: the part of a garment designed to cover the wearer's back

7. part of piece of furniture: the part of a seat designed to support somebody's spine

8. part to which pages are fixed: the part of a book where the pages are glued or stitched to the binding

9. sports defensive player: a player in sports such as soccer or hockey whose role is mainly to prevent the other team from scoring

10. sports player behind line: a player positioned behind the offensive or defensive line, especially in football

adverb Definition:

1. in reverse direction: in the opposite direction from the one in which somebody or something was previously facing or traveling She looked back over her shoulder.

2. at distance: at a distance from where something is situated or taking place Stay back, the dog might bite.

3. in reserve: as a reserve or supply kept for future use I kept back part of the proceeds.

4. so as to uncover something: away from something so as to leave something else uncovered or revealed roll back the carpet

5. so as to recline: in or into a reclining position Sit back and relax.

6. in or into past: used to indicate a time in the past See also ago It happened about three weeks back.

7. to more distant time: used to indicate movement in time away from the present will put the clocks back postponed the wedding and moved it back to next year

8. to original owner: to or into the keeping of the original or former owner or possessor You can have it back now, because I'm finished with it.

9. in return: as a reaction or response to something She called me while I was out, so I called her back.

10. indicates direction and distance: in the distance behind something, especially somebody's present position We passed it about two miles back.

11. returned to condition or topic: used to indicate a return to a state, situation, or subject of discussion to get back to your point

12. into popularity again: into fashion or popularity again The 1960s are back. Do you think Depression glass will ever come back?


adjective Definition:

1. located at rear: located at the rear of something, or at the part farthest from the front Use the back entrance. a back room

2. issued earlier: published or issued at an earlier date a back issue

3. remaining from earlier time: due at or owed from an earlier date paid the back taxes in full

4. located away from main roads: located away from the main roads or the center of a town a quiet back street

5. remote: situated away from the main centers of population or activity explored the back areas of the canyon

6. reverse: moving in an opposite direction from the usual one

7. phonetics formed at rear of mouth: formed at or toward the rear of the mouth, as the vowel in "ball" is a back vowel

verb (past and past participle backed, present participle back·ing, 3rd person present singular backs) Definition:

1. transitive and intransitive verb move backward: to move backward, or make somebody or something move backward The vehicle in front backed into me.

2. transitive verb support person or cause: to give a person or cause financial, political, or moral support

3. transitive verb bet on outcome of race: to bet money on the person, team, or animal thought likely to win a race or competition

4. transitive verb provide proof to support something: to provide evidence or proof in support of a statement But can they back their allegations?

5. transitive verb reinforce something: to reinforce something by adding a support or backing ( often passive ) colored paper backed with cardboard

6. transitive verb be behind something: to be situated behind something ( usually passive ) a lake backed by a range of mountains

7. transitive verb music provide musical accompaniment for somebody: to provide an instrumental or vocal accompaniment for the main performer of a piece of popular music or jazz

8. intransitive verb meteorology change direction: to change direction, moving in a counterclockwise direction ( refers to winds )

9. transitive verb regional address envelope: to write an address on an envelope or letter

[ Old English bæc< Germanic]

back and fill

1. to adjust the sails of a vessel to allow the wind to move in and out of them in an alternating manner while maneuvering in a narrow channel

2. to dither or vacillate in actions or decision-making

back and forth

1. first in one direction and then in the opposite direction, usually forward and backward

2. repeatedly changing between two people, things, situations, or ideas

back of at the back of or behind something

behind somebody's back when somebody is not present

be or get on somebody's back to criticize or pressure somebody (slang)

get off somebody's back to stop criticizing or pressuring somebody (slang)

get your back up to become annoyed or angry (informal)

get your own back to get revenge (informal)

have your back to the wall to be in a very difficult situation, with little chance of getting out of it

in back (of something) at the back of or behind something (informal)

know something like the back of your hand to know something extremely well He knew the city like the back of his hand, having lived there for nearly 50 years.

put somebody's back up to annoy or antagonize somebody (informal)

put your back into something to put effort, especially physical strength, into doing something

stab somebody in the back to do or say something harmful to somebody after pretending to be a friend After promising not to tell anyone, he stabbed me in the back and went to the press.

the back of beyond a remote inaccessible place that has few amenities They bought a small cabin in the back of beyond, just to get away from it all.

turn your back on somebody or something to ignore or reject somebody or something

you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours if you help me, I will help you in returnoften refers to unofficial or dishonest business dealings

Word Usage

back of and in back of:

The phrase back of is standard and in back of is its informal variant. Both mean "behind," and in back of is formed on the direct analogy of in front of: There was a swimming pool (in) back of the house.


Word Usage

Movement in time:

Back as it applies to the past refers to a change to an earlier time. They have moved the estimate of its date of origin back a hundred years would mean a change from, say, ad 1000 to ad 900. As the word applies to the future, however, it usually signifies a change to a later time: The forecast is for rain, so let's move the picnic back a week. What the two uses have in common is movement in time away from the present. Up is the opposite of back in this sense: Let's move the date up means moving the date closer to the present, and thus in future contexts changing it to an earlier one. Forward in future contexts is used less consistently than either back or up; it is best avoided. All these words become particularly confusing when the subject is, for example, a decision, now in the past, about what was at the time the future: Last month she told me she wanted to move my appointment back. In a context like this, make earlier or make later is clearer.


Regional History


In the sense "to write an address on an envelope or letter," back is a mainly Southern and South Midland term, being found from Tennessee and Georgia to Texas, with scattered instances of use in New England, the Midwest, and the West.