on the back foot

Meaning(s)

1. in a position of disadvantage or retreat

Popularity

High

Professional

High

Social

Check Icon How to Memorize

start something on the back foot

Check Icon Analysis

To be on the back foot means to be in a weak position or be in a place of disadvantage. When you are on the back foot you are more likely to fail or be defeated. This idiom has the opposite meaning to 'on the front foot'.

Check Icon Professional Examples (Basic)

  1. We've been on the back foot ever since our competitors appeared in the market. We urgently need to find a way to turn things around.
  2. Being late for my job interview really put me on the back foot. I tried to get things back on track, but I don't think I managed it.
  3. Budget cuts mean that we're starting this project on the back foot. It's not ideal, but we'll make it work.

Check Icon Social Examples (Basic)

  1. Those living in social housing or coming from disadvantaged areas often find they are on the back foot when it comes to higher education.
  2. The away team were on the back foot from the beginning, the weather conditions were not in their favour.

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