Definition of backbone in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbakbəʊn/


1The series of vertebrae extending from the skull to the pelvis; the spine: prickles of sweat broke out along her backbone figurative the great Pennine range is the backbone of England
More example sentences
  • Both chickens and humans are vertebrates, a group of animals that have skulls and backbones.
  • Snakes have hundreds of similar vertebrae in their backbones, as can be seen in the skeleton of a python embryo.
  • This jawless mouth sets the lamprey and its cousin the hagfish apart from all other modern vertebrates - animals with backbones.
1.1US The spine of a book.
1.2 Biochemistry The main chain of a polymeric molecule.
Example sentences
  • The protective mucus in the gastrointestinal tract consists of glycoproteins - a protein backbone with carbohydrate side chains.
  • It has been proposed that the photoexcited flavin molecule adds a cysteine residue of the protein backbone, thus activating autophosphorylation of the enzyme.
  • Third, specific interactions between the polar headgroups and chemical groups of the backbone and side chains of the peptide are missing from the model.
2The chief support of a system or organization: these firms are the backbone of our industrial sector
More example sentences
  • Today, an access control system is the backbone of many organizations' total security plan.
  • Can't sophisticated people attack the computer systems that are the backbone of these big financial institutions?
  • ‘The focus is on developing a core of strong domestic banks to be the backbone of the financial system,’ she said.
mainstay, cornerstone, foundation, chief support, buttress, pillar
2.1 [mass noun] Strength of character: he has enough backbone to see us through this difficulty
More example sentences
  • True, they have not that softness of speech which is said to be possessed by Londoners, but they have plenty of grit and backbone in their characters.
  • What the football team needs now is a head coach with backbone and character.
  • Character and backbone behind closed doors is why, among players, he is still respected.
informal guts, spunk, grit
British informal bottle
vulgar slang balls
3 Computing & Telecommunications A high-speed, high-capacity digital connection which forms the axis of a local or wide area network.
Example sentences
  • The first major project completed was the digital backbone network, which spans the entire country since its completion in February this year.
  • Villagers cannot afford to use the network even if the backbone transport and connection are free.
  • Smaller players can connect to their backbones via high-speed access lines, paying for a transit link to make the connection.
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