What does the idiom "see the back of" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does see the back of mean? In what situations is see the back of used?

Meaning of "see the back of"


To "see the back of" something or someone is a phrase used to describe the act of getting rid of, or eliminating a person or thing. In this context, the phrase implies that the person or thing is so far away that they are outside of your reach, and you no longer need to worry about them. It implies that you are successfully rid of the person or thing and that there is no longer a need to deal with them or any of the problems they were associated with.


The phrase “see the back of” is an idiomatic expression and has been in use since at least the 19th century. It likely originated as a military term, meaning to watch a retreating enemy, as the enemy moves further away, they become less of a threat, and it can be assumed they will no longer cause any problems. It is probable that this phrase was adapted into everyday language as a way to express the desire to be rid of a person or thing.


The phrase “see the back of” is commonly used in both spoken and written English, often in the context of wanting to be rid of a person or thing which is causing problems. This phrase is commonly used to express the hope that a person or thing is gone for good, and the associated problems are over. It can also be used to describe the act of actually getting rid of a person or thing, providing a sense of satisfaction that the problem has finally been solved. The phrase can often be found in the context of celebrating a victory over a particularly difficult person or problem.

Example Sentences

  • We can't wait to see the back of this virus so we can get back to our normal lives.
  • We finally saw the back of our old landlord, and it was such a relief to not have to deal with them anymore.
  • We're hoping that these protests will cause the government to see the back of this unpopular policy.

The meanings of the words in the "see the back of" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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