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1. noun Go away! Stop bothering me! Back off! I told you I'm not going to the dance, and that's it! You need to back off, buddy. I've told you I'm not interested.
2. verb To retreat on a particular idea or course of action. Your aggressive approach is starting to annoy people—you need to back off a bit. Management seems to be backing off that initiative, at least for now.
3. verb To cause someone to retreat on a particular idea or course of action. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "back" and "off." Can you please back your minions off? They're harassing me.
4. verb To move backward away from something. Back off that other runner so you don't collide with her.
5. verb To move backward past the edge of something. If he's not careful, he's going to back off that narrow step.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
back someone or something off (from something)
to guide or move someone or something a short distance from something. I backed the car off from the curb a tiny bit. Using signals, I backed the car off from the crushed bicycle.
(from someone or something) Go to back away (from someone or something).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. See back down, def. 2.
2. Relent, abandon one's stand. For example, The chairman wanted to sell one division but later backed off. [Mid-1900s]
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 so that one is farther away from someone or something: Back off the car ahead of you: you're driving too close to it. The dog growled at me when I approached, so I backed off.
2. To move something backward beyond the edge of something: He accidentally backed the truck off the ledge and broke an axle.
3. To decrease the intensity or amount of something: I think I should back off the desserts for a little while so I can lose some weight.
4. To decide not to continue doing something or supporting an idea: You've made up your mind, so don't back off your idea now! Just before they were about to sign the papers to buy the new house, they got nervous and backed off.
5. To stop intimidating, threatening, or pressuring someone: Even as I left the store, the salesman wouldn't back off me. Whenever anyone bothers me, I just tell them to back off.
6. To cause someone or something to stop intimidating, threatening or pressuring: The angry dogs were barking at the poor kid, so I waved a stick and backed them off.
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.
back off, to
To retreat from a position, or yield; leave someone or something alone. For example, “When Jane learned about the required deposit, she backed off from the deal.” Or, “Mom thought Dad had punished the boys enough and told him to back off.” This usage dates from the first half of the 1900s.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer