The title of a section of a book by Robert Nozick is: *How to Back into a State without Really Trying".

I've never come across the word back as a verb, except to back up.

I can't find this phrasal verb in the dictionaries. What is the meaning of to back into?


3 Answers 3


You can understand "back" as a verb "back up" and add into: Back up into

You might think that sounds strange, but that is correct to understanding it.

First, you might want to find definitions of back, verb. If that doesn't help, you can search for back into. The advantage of the Internet is that you can put quotation marks around just about anything, then search:

define verb "back into"

Here, I saw back into in bold, so, under back, verb, I saw: — back into: to get into inadvertently (well, that's one definition, and comparing it to your title, it seems to work.)

But here it was perfect: to move backwards, or make someone or something move backwards; back into/out of/away from etc. She backed into a doorway to let the crowds pass by.

In addition, it gave me a few more phrasals using back. :)

By the way, that book looks really interesting, and I like National Book Award winners, so you have helped me, too.


There are two slightly different idiomatic meanings:

1) It may be used as in "He backed into a buzzsaw (or fan) with that one," meaning that the person in question was moving backwards away from one thing he was trying to avoid and blindly encountered something much worse.

2) "He backed into his job there," meaning that he was presumably working in some associated post and, without really noticing, slowly had his responsibilities change until he was in this new position (presumably one of more responsibility, etc).

In both cases there is the "without noticing" implication.


Well to back is to mean that
"To support with money " or " to support someone "
Example : 1 she aggreed to back him for his recovery 2 lord CArnarvon agreed to back him for his discovery

  • 2
    Has absolutely nothing to do with the phrase "back into".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 23, 2015 at 16:48

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