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1. To retreat or withdraw. I fell back when I noticed a gang of teenagers up ahead. Oh please, Grandpa is never one to fall back from his beliefs—you won't change his mind.
2. To recede or move away. The clouds are starting to fall back so that the sun can peek through.
3. To depend on someone or something that one has kept in reserve. In this usage, the phrase is usually "fall back on (someone or something)." With all of these medical bills, I just don't have any more money to fall back on. We can fall back on a few other babysitters if Jane can't make it.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
to move back from something; to retreat from something. The gang members fell back, and I took that opportunity to get away. The troops fell back to regroup.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Give ground, retreat, as in The troops fell back before the relentless enemy assault, or He stuck to his argument, refusing to fall back. [c. 1600]
2. Recede, as in The waves fell back from the shore. [c. 1800]
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 give ground; retreat: After an unsuccessful attempt to retake the city, the soldiers fell back.
2. To recede: The waves fell back, leaving frothy white bubbles on the sand.
3. fall back on To use something as a substitute or backup: If we run out of cash, we will have to fall back on the money in our savings account.
4. fall back on To rely on someone or something for support: At least I can fall back on my friends in times of need.
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.
1. To rely on: fall back on old friends in time of need.
2. To resort to: I had to fall back on my savings when I was unemployed.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.