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backseat driver

1. A passenger in a vehicle (not necessarily in the backseat) who attempts to instruct the driver or criticize their driving skills. John quickly became annoyed at Mary's tendency to become a backseat driver whenever he drove her somewhere, so he just began to let her drive.
2. By extension, someone who tries to establish and maintain control over every situation. Primarily heard in US. Although Mary was capable of completing the project on her own, John couldn't stop himself from being a backseat driver and telling her what to do.
See also: backseat, driver

take a backseat

1. To be given a lower priority. Unfortunately, I had the flu last week, so everything else around the house had to take a back seat.
2. To willingly take a less prominent role in some situation. I took a back seat during the presentation because I knew you could handle it.
See also: backseat, take

backseat driver

Fig. an annoying passenger who tells the driver how to drive; someone who tells others how to do things. I don't need any backseat driver on this project. Stop pestering me with all your advice. Nobody likes a backseat driver!
See also: backseat, driver

take a backseat (to someone or something)

Fig. to become less important than someone or something else. My homework had to take a backseat to football during the playoffs. Jimmy always took a backseat to his older brother, Bill, until Bill went away to college.
See also: backseat, take

backseat driver

A passenger who gives unwanted and/or unneeded directions to the driver; also, a person who interferes in affairs without having knowledge, responsibility, or authority for doing so. For example, Aunt Mary drives us all crazy with her instructions; she's an incurable backseat driver. This term originated in the United States in the 1920s, when it was first used for a passenger legitimately directing a chauffeur, and it was quickly transferred to figurative use. Also see the synonym Monday-morning quarterback and the antonym take a back seat.
See also: backseat, driver

backseat driver

n. an annoying passenger who tells the driver how to drive; someone who tells others how to do things. I don’t need any backseat driver on this project.
See also: backseat, driver

backseat driver

A passenger who gives unasked-for and usually unwanted advice to the driver of a vehicle; by extension, anyone who interferes without having real responsibility or authority. The term originated in the United States during the 1920s, when many automobiles were chauffeur-driven and their passengers sat in the backseat, often quite legitimately telling the chauffeur where to go. Today the passenger’s location is irrelevant, the term being principally figurative. It has largely replaced the older armchair general. See also Monday-morning quarterback and the very different take a backseat.
See also: backseat, driver

take a backseat, to

To occupy an inferior or relatively obscure position. Equating the backseat of a vehicle with inferiority dates from mid-nineteenth century America. Max Beerbohm used the figure of speech in Around Theatres (1902): “He brought on a circus procession . . . and Oxford had to take a back seat.”
See also: take
References in periodicals archive ?
She was then made to sit in the backseat and her mobile phone was taken.
The part marks the entry of this composite material into the lightweight design of backseat systems and is further evidence of its enormous potential in series production applications," explained Plaggenborg.
He said police officers will warn backseat passengers first and if the passenger refuses to fasten the seat belt, the driver will be issued a ticket.
Even changing your routine (for example, if you don't usually pick up your child at the daycare center) can make parents forget their child is in the backseat.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "The woman, a backseat passenger in one of the cars involved in the collision, had a broken leg and minor head injury.
The research from the car insurance experts also reveals that the worst backseat pests are bus drivers, train drivers and delivery men who obviously forget that they're off duty.
CoulVue is custom-made for the Apple iPad, and it transforms the popular tablets into entertainment centers for backseat viewing.
Making new friends and rivals soon takes a backseat to the mystery of who is kidnapping faerie-blooded Changelings like Ernie.
CDATA[ A PA thief stole a car in Jerusalem as a three-year-old sat in the backseat.
Summary: BEIRUT: Forty-eight-year-old Mostafa Saiid Saiid, a Lebanese citizen, was found dead Wednesday in the backseat of a blue Renault Rapid with a license plate numbered 163647/M, the National News Agency (NNA) said Wednesday.
Mr Soloman, from Cardiff, was a backseat passenger in a silver Vauxhall Vectra which crashed at Swanbridge Road, Sully, at its junctions with Cog Road and Sully Road, at about 8pm on Sunday.
MANAMA: A Bahraini mother gave birth to a baby boy in the backseat of a car, after a road accident as she was being rushed to hospital.
Significantly more backseat passengers are wearing seat belts since doing so became mandatory under the revised road traffic law in June this year, according to a nationwide survey released Thursday.
Arizona's cell-phone industry is protesting Phoenix's new law banning texting while driving by proposing a state law that bans all kinds activities that can distract a driver--including eating, putting on make-up and turning around to talk to kids in the backseat.