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To retreat from a particular idea or course of action, often in a conflict. I refuse to back down—this law must be passed, in the interest of public safety. The bully backed down after all of my friends came with me to confront him.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
back down (something)
to go down something backwards, such as a ladder or inclined driveway. Harry backed down the ladder safely. Looking behind him, he backed down slowly.
(from someone or something) to yield to a person or a thing; to fail to carry through on a threat. Jane backed down from her position on the budget. It's probably better to back down from this situation; looks like you are at a disadvantage.
(on something) to lessen or drop an earlier rigid position on something; to yield something in an argument. She backed down on her demands. In the end, she backed down.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Reverse one's upward course, descend. For example, When she saw the wasps' nest on the roof, she hastily backed down the ladder. This literal usage usually refers to something one has climbed, such as a ladder or mountain. [Mid-1800s]
2. Also, back off. Retreat or yield. For example, As the watchdog began to snarl the letter carrier backed off, or You have a good point; now don't back down when you present it to the board. [First half of 1900s] Also see back away, def. 2.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To move backward through some region, especially in a vehicle: We backed down the driveway.
2. To cause something, especially a vehicle, to move backward through some region or space: I slowly backed the truck down the hill.
3. To withdraw from a position or confrontation, especially due to intimidation: The smaller bear kept growling so loudly that the larger bear backed down and walked away. Even though they appeared to have a very strong argument against me, I wouldn't back down, and I eventually showed them their conclusions were wrong.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.