behind someone's back

Idioms & Phrases

behind someone's back

Out of one's presence or without someone's knowledge, as in Joan has a nasty way of maligning her friends behind their backs. Sir Thomas Malory used this metaphoric term in Le Morte d'Arthur (c. 1470): "To say of me wrong or shame behind my back." [Early 1300s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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