Backstab – Definition & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you ever been backstabbed by a close friend? Or was it you who backstabbed them?

The word backstab has been thrown around a lot in high school or work. We always use it to refer to the action of criticizing someone when they are not there but pretending to be nice when they are present.

Keep reading to learn more about the definition and examples of backstab.

Backstab Meaning

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Backstab is a verb that means to betray through a verbal attack when someone is not present.

When someone backstabs you, it means they are a fake friend talking behind your back. They are unfairly or deceitfully sharing real or fake stories about you with other people.

Backstab is a simple transitive verb because it can have a direct object. For example, one can backstab a classmate or friend.

The simple present form of the verb is backstab or backstabs. It’s a regular verb, so its simple past form is backstabbed. The present participle form of backstab used for continuous tenses is backstabbing.

Here are some examples of backstab in a sentence.

  • Despite the backstabbing and threats she faced, Julia finished second place in the competition.
  • He was upset about his best friend backstabbing him.
  • Do not backstab your most loyal friends.
  • My parents taught me to avoid gossiping and backstabbing.

Backstabbing Meaning

Backstabbing is a noun form of backstab. This gerund refers to the act of saying unpleasant things about someone behind their back. For example:

  • Backstabbing is not encouraged in our circle of friends.
  • There is a lot of backstabbing in high school.
  • The culture of backstabbing is a significant concern in the workplace.

Backstab Synonyms

Some alternatives to the word backstab include:

  • Backbite
  • Double-cross
  • Betray
  • Play Judas
  • Sell down the river
  • Slander
  • Smear
  • Two-time
  • Cross
  • Peach
  • Snitch on
  • Tell on
  • Stab in the back
  • Give away
  • Sellout
  • Turn in
  • Inform on
  • Rat on
  • Go back on

Backstab Origin

Backstab Ngram
Backstab usage trend.

Backstab is a compound word for back and stab. It is joined as one word instead of hyphenated or separated by a space.

The word back comes from the Proto-Germanic word bakam, while stab has Scottish English roots that mean thrust with a pointed weapon.

The word was first associated with Julius Caesar’s assassination. But backstab’s figurative meaning only started being used in the late 1800s.

Backstab Pronunciation

The correct pronunciation of backstab is /ˈbækˌstæb/.

Examples of Backstab in a Sentence

  • One of my favorite T.V. shows is Survivor. I just love watching them compete in the intense games, but I live for the underhanded backstabbing they all do to get to the end.
  • I thought she was my friend but turns out she was waiting for the perfect moment to backstab me and steal my job.
  • I’m usually good at predicting movie plots, but I didn’t expect her to backstab the other character like that. I thought she was the good guy!

Watch Out for Those Who Watch Your Back

Was this article helpful in teaching you the definition and examples of the verb backstab? I hope it was! Remember that backstab is one word without a hyphen that means to betray through a verbal attack when someone is not present.

Check out some others we covered:

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