the difference and common between Back down and back off????

Discuss idioms and slang from different English speaking countries.
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english-learner
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the difference and common between Back down and back off????

Post by english-learner » Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:42 am

Hello,

I am a bit confused by these two phrases: Back down and Back off

What are the difference and common ground that these two phrases have?

Thank you for taking the time to help me with this,
english learner

DavidB
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Re: the difference and common between Back down and back off

Post by DavidB » Tue Apr 19, 2005 12:07 am

english-learner wrote:Hello,

I am a bit confused by these two phrases: Back down and Back off

What are the difference and common ground that these two phrases have?

Thank you for taking the time to help me with this,
english learner
They mean about the same thing - "Get away from me!" However, here are some more precise explanations.

I think BACK DOWN suggests stopping a threatening posture or move. BACK OFF suggests moving some distance away.

For example, if my pet dog starts to growl at me, I might say, "Back down!" or "Back off!" I don't want it to run away; I just want it to stop growling at me.

But if a strange dog growls at me, I'd be more likely to say "Back OFF!" This suggests that I want it to 1) stop threatening me and 2) move far away from me.

However, either phrase could be used in either situation. They can also be used to refer to people you can't even see. For example, suppose you learn that someone plans to sue you or write something bad about you in a newspaper. You can call them on the telephone or write a letter warning them, "Back off!"

In general, I think BACK OFF is used more commonly than BACK DOWN.

James Trotta
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Post by James Trotta » Tue May 10, 2005 6:48 am

When I think of back down I think of back down from a fight or confrontation.

I don't think anyone would say "back off from a fight" because back off and from do not go together.

DavidB
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Post by DavidB » Tue May 10, 2005 7:05 am

James Trotta wrote:When I think of back down I think of back down from a fight or confrontation.

I don't think anyone would say "back off from a fight" because back off and from do not go together.
"Back down" is far more popular, but "back off" is sometimes used, too. I think it kind of depends on whether you're describing what someone did or giving a command.

If I saw two people making fists, followed by one person walking away, I'd say he BACKED DOWN.

But if someone was about to attack me, I think I'd be more likely to say, "BACK OFF!", meaning "get away from me."

"Back down from a fight" yields far more hits in Google than "Back off from a fight." But if you compare "back down" and "back off," the latter is yields about a third as many hits. These are the top ten results:

Japanese Manufacturers Back Off Proprietary OSes

Wired News: Pentagon: Back Off, Flyboy!

ESPN.com - NHL - Owners back off replacements

Earth To Humankind: Back Off

Back Off John!

Susan Crawford blog :: DC Circuit to FCC: Back Off

Back Off Bully

Ex-envoy won't back off of Bush

The Australian: "Back off or suffer oil shock: Tehran" has been ...

Ananova - US agents told to back off bin Ladens

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