Could someone explain to me the meaning of the phrase ‘back the road’ in the following sentence: “My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in”?

Does it mean ‘next to the road’ or ‘near the road’ or ‘past the road’? Is it synonymous with the phrase ‘up the road’?

P.S. The sentence is taken from the book written by an Irish author.

  • Deletion is involved. But I'd have to guess whether the intended original was 'My father still lives back in the cottage I was reared in, which stands on the road past the weir' or 'My father still lives in the cottage I was reared in, which stands a little way back from the road past the weir.' In the first sentence, 'back' means 'back where I come from / back in Ireland / back there in lovely Lisdoonvarda etc'. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 11:27
  • I think the sentence isn't just "clumsy". It's syntactically flawed. Perhaps the writer simply balked at using "syntactically correct" in as well as or instead of back, because he's already using that same preposition (somewhat "awkwardly", imho) twice. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 11:41
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    I would interpret "back the road" as meaning some distance along a rural (and probably dead-end) road. It's a ruralism in the US.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 12:25
  • I immediately assume one or two missing prepositions (and a comma): My father lives in back of the road, past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. In fact, I'm sure I've heard this kind of construction before, and that's the meaning that it's had. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 13:10
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    It could be a regionalism. It sounds to me like "back" is being used similarly to "up" as in "he lives up the road".
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 1:30

1 Answer 1


Back the road is a phrase my wife's family has always used. They live on a dead end and either travel up the road towards town or Back the road towards the dead end.

It is a mostly German town where people sometimes end a sentence with "ain't it?" and frequently insert an R in words like wash (warsh).

To them it is a place name, they live back the road.

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