back away

Idioms & Phrases

back away

  1. Walk backward, as in He cautiously backed away from the fire.

  2. Gradually retreat, withdraw, as in Since he couldn't convince his colleagues, he's backing away from his original idea. Both usages employ the verb back in the sense of "retreat," dating from the late 1400s. Also see back down; back out.

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