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Someone or something that is out of date, out of fashion, or no longer relevant. Alludes to an issue of a periodical, magazine, or any serial publication that is now out of date. Primarily heard in US, South Africa. While it created quite a controversy in its time, the movie's love scene is a bit of a back number by today's standard. The singer was a huge star in the 1980s, but she's just a back number now.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Dated, out of style. For example, That hat is really a back number, or The game has changed so fast that a player who returns to the circuit after several years' absence usually finds he or she is a back number . This term originally referred to back issues of periodicals, which are no longer newsworthy. [Late 1800s]
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.
a back number
If you call someone a back number, you mean that they are no longer useful or successful. This veteran jockey showed he was no back number by coming third out of a field of 24. Note: A back number of a magazine or newspaper is an edition of it that was published some time ago and is not the most recent.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a back number1 an issue of a periodical before the current one. 2 a person whose ideas or methods are out of date and who is no longer relevant or useful.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. an old-fashioned person. (Like an out-of-print issue of a magazine.) Some old back number wearing gaiters wants to have a word with you.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Something or someone outdated. The term comes from the back issues of newspapers and other periodicals, which carry items no longer new and events no longer current. The term began to be used figuratively in the late nineteenth century in the United States.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer