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have no backbone

To have no courage, resolve, or strength of character. I just wish Tom would have stood up for our team when the CEO started criticizing our work. For a manager, he seems to have no backbone. These politicians have no backbone. They just do and say whatever will get them elected.
See also: backbone, have, no

put (one's) backbone into (something)

To exert a strong effort toward (doing) something. Come on, we need to get this car off the road. Put your backbone into it and push! It's clear that the legislators have put their backbones into crafting a bill that will find support across party lines, as well in the general population.
See also: backbone, put

put backbone into (one)

To embolden one; to give one courage or determination. All of their encouragement put backbone into me to tell the boss we wanted better working conditions. She was afraid of changing careers, but the thought of staying in this dead end job forever put backbone into Janet.
See also: backbone, put

success depends on your backbone, not your wishbone

Success is achieved through dedication and effort, not one's hopes, dreams, or wishful thinking. You need to work on your writing every single day if you really want to be a famous author because success depends on your backbone, not your wishbone.
See also: depend, not, on, success

to the backbone

Through and through; thoroughly; in every manner or respect. The fellow is stubborn to the backbone; he won't even listen to my plan the whole way through! Though he grew up in America, Henry is still British to the backbone.
See also: backbone, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

put backbone into someone

encourage someone to behave resolutely.
As a metaphor for ‘firmness of character’, backbone dates from the mid 19th century.
1998 Spectator There is a widespread belief that if only Mrs Thatcher had still been in No. 10, she would have put backbone into Bush and got rid of Saddam .
See also: backbone, put, someone

to the backbone

in every respect; through and through.
See also: backbone, to
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017


n. courage; integrity. (Colloquial.) If you had any backbone, you would be able to deal with this.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Washington, April 21 (ANI): In new discoveries by researchers from Uppsala, Cambridge and Duke Universities, it has been shown that the earliest backboned land animals had different life histories.
I don't see that with this team because they're backboned by a team that have won a few Leinster titles at under-21."
The Loup are backboned by former Derry players Paul McFlynn and Johnny McBride.
Cole has been an essential part of Shrewsbury's consecutive Division 1 East title wins, as the 6-foot-2, 270-pound center has backboned a solid offensive line for coach Terry Walles.
Arguably the greatest team of all time, however, the Kerry side from 1975-86, was backboned by four U21 successes between 1973-77.
The Offaly champions head to Nowlan Park (2pm) chasing an eighth Leinster title today, but face a Ballyhale side backboned by Cats stars Henry Shefflin and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick.
Last season, he backboned Team Canada to gold at the World Junior Championships and led Montreal's AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, to the Calder Cup title with a 2.09 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
Nobody said too much about the fact that Castleknock's rags to riches tale was backboned by Peter and James Sherry, two former Fermanagh players.
Her goalkeeping backboned Millbury's march to its first Central Mass.
Hopedale held an 11-2 advantage on penalty corners in the first half, but the Spartan defense, backboned by Jodoin, kept the Raiders from converting any.
His men are given little hope of beating a Munster team backboned by their All-Ireland winning Cork contingent.
However, Vincent's are gunning for a third title in four seasons and are backboned by county stars past and present, like Tomas Quinn and Diarmuid Connolly.
Today, Galway champions Killererin are backboned by Joyce brothers Padraic, Nicky and Tommy plus ex-county keeper Alan Keane.
They'll be hoping for a similar outcome today but Connacht are backboned by the Mayo team that made it to this year's |All-Ireland final.