The idiomatic phrase “fall back” is one that you may hear used frequently in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase and the information behind its origin. You will also find some examples of how to properly use this phrase in conversations/statements and example of how this phrase can be said in other terms to convey the same meaning.
Fall Back Meaning
The idiomatic phrase “fall back” has multiple meanings. The first meaning is to withdraw or retreat from an area or a situation. It can also mean to calm down or cool off when someone is upset about something. The third meaning is used to describe someone or something you have kept in reserve. When the phrase is used, you must listen to the context it is being used in to successfully identify the meaning that is implied.
Origin of the idiom
Although there is little information about the origin of this phrase, it is believed to have been derived from the military meaning to retreat in the 1600s. The other meanings have been derived over time as the phrase was used for other purposes.
“Fall Back” Examples
Examples in Statements
A statement made in the local newspaper about the town’s finances.
- “If we run out of funding that we received as donations for the project, we can fall back on the city’s budget reserves to ensure it is completed successfully.”
A statement made by a celebrity during an interview for a popular entertainment magazine.
- “I always said that if I could not make it in Hollywood, I would always have my career as a couch potato to fall back on. It’s a good thing I succeeded in Hollywood.”
Examples in Conversations
A conversation between two friends talking about their upcoming camping trip.
- Friend 1: Are you ready for the camping trip this weekend?
- Friend 2: I think so, but I still have to check my tent. Last season, I am pretty sure it ripped when a branch landed on it.
- Friend 1: It’s no big deal if it does. We always have my tent as a fall back.
A conversation between two co-workers on the job.
- Co-worker 1: What are we going to do if Cindy does not show up again tomorrow?
- Co-worker 2: I don’t know honestly. We need the extra hands to complete this project by the deadline.
- Co-worker 1: We could always use Paul as a fall back. He is dependable and a quick learner. He could step in for her.
More useful examples:
- You can always fall back on him when you are in difficulties.
- The battle is going badly for us,we’d better fall back on the town in the hills.
- Our attack was so vigorous that the enemy had to fall back to the river bank.
- It’s very hard if you have no family to fall back on.
Other Ways to Say “Fall Back”
Like all idiomatic phrases, “fall back” can be said in many different ways. Some of the other things you could say to convey the same meaning include:
- Go cool off
- Calm down
- Reserve or option