back out

Idioms & Phrases

back out

  1. Move or retreat backwards without turning; same as back away, def. 1.

  2. Also, back out of something. Withdraw from a situation, or break an agreement or engagement. For example, After the announcement appeared in the papers, Mary found it doubly difficult to back out of her engagement to Todd. [Early 1800s] Also see go back on.

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