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Hopefully, my last two blogs will have eradicated any fond ideas you might have had about
BACK being a nice, simple word for the part of your body that’s hard to scratch. BACK can be
the direction part of a phrasal verb, like when you go back to somewhere or put something
back in its place, but it can also be a verb for going backwards in other phrasals, like when you
back out of a deal. BACK is logical enough as synonym for retreat, but it’s not the only verb
meaning that we give to it. When you back me up in an argument, you don’t retreat, you stand
by me and support me, and this is the final sense of BACK that you need for Business English.

Backing as Supporting

In the past, your BACK was where you supported the load you had to carry, so with with typical
English disregard for grammar, we were soon backing bags of vegetables to market and
backing tired kids home from school. These days, I wouldn’t expect you to lift me off my feet if
you offered to back me up, but I would hope that you’d help me, and if you gave your full
backing to my proposal, I’d assume that you liked it.

Financial Backing versus Back-Up Funds

Backing is often the kind of support that requires you to put your money where your mouth is,
so it’s especially common in business. You can back a team to win at a betting shop, but
backers are usually big investors who back start-ups and other corporate ventures. A back-up,
or a back-up option, is a bit different. It’s what you have to support you in emergencies, like a
back-up parachute or a back-up database.

Backs versus Backsides

Before we turn our backs on BACK for good, there’s one more thing you should be careful
with. Your backside is not the same as your back; it’s a discreet word for your bottom or your
your bum, the part of your body that you sit on. That’s just one item on the blacklist of wolves
in sheep’s clothing, false friends and other potentially embarrassing traps in English that will
form the subject of my next blog. For now, just don’t tell anyone that you’re constipated until
you’ve had a chance to check the meaning…

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