I am looking for an idiom or phrase that means to make sure your back is covered or to limit your exposure from behind. Something that connotes the idea of sitting in the corner of the room like Wild Bill Hitchcock always did. Would be nice if it also had a sort of cryptic connotation as well but this is not necessary.

  • In the US, the acronym CYA (pronounced /siwayei/) is very common for all sorts of bureaucratic and political horseshit, especially where extra steps have to be taken for security and success (where it is possible). Though, usually, one doesn't have to worry about violence. CYA, of course, means "Cover Your Ass". Dec 22, 2022 at 16:38
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    "Check your six" (a metaphor from clock dials) springs to mind but fairly reeks of cordite. And I believe "Wild Bill" wrote his surname Hickok, or sometimes Haycock. Dec 22, 2022 at 17:30
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    What kind of "cryptic connotation" do you mean? Something linked to secret messages or cryptocurrency, or something that most people wouldn't understand or is otherwise subtle or hidden.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 4, 2023 at 8:37
  • What's wrong with "watch your back"?
    – Joachim
    Jan 4, 2023 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


"Keep your head on a swivel" is another idiomatic phrase from the armed forces which describes hyper-alertness or maintaining awareness of possible danger from all directions.

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