I often come across this phrase "fresh off the back of something" and although I could never find it in a dictionary, I figured out it means "right after something" but what does it really mean "off the back"? Why is the word "back" used in this phrase?


OED has a draft entry from 2010:

Chiefly Brit. on (also off) the back of : on the basis of; by capitalizing on the work or success of.

1906 Baily's Mag. Jan. 30/2 On the back of every successful form of enterprise kindred ventures are too often floated without much regard to the question of whether they contain the elements of success.
1993 Accountancy Oct. 49/1 Off the back of its tea business Moran diversified into freight.
2004 H. Kennedy Just Law (2005) xiii. 278 The government wins support for the entitlement card on the back of asylum scares.

I suppose it may come from horse-riding, referring either to riding on, or jumping off from, the back of an animal.

Image of acrobats on horseback

Image c 1875 | Source | Copyright Library of Congress

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    This aint fresh at all. – Kris Dec 30 '13 at 5:24
  • 1
    Seconding @Kris here. The word "fresh" is not in this. If I had to take a guess, I'd say the question comes from a common mixed metaphor (with this phrase and "fresh off the boat" being the mixed sources), or this phrase is a regionalism from somewhere (probably not the US). – T.E.D. Jul 15 '15 at 15:43
  • Fresh[ly] (adj. and adv.) = direct[ly]; new[ly]; most recent[ly]. 1867 E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (1876) I. App. 673 The narrative..was fresh from the lips of an Englishman. fresh off = fresh from – Greybeard Oct 22 at 10:08

I wonder if you’re thinking of the phrase ‘right off the bat’?

i.e. immediately

e.g. Right off the bat we were chatting like old friends.

| improve this answer | |
New contributor
Josh Westley is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
  • 1
    While this isn't a bad idea, without supporting research it comes across as more of a comment or opinion than a detailed answer. Please take a moment to tour the site and see the help center. – livresque Oct 22 at 9:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.