Entries linking to fullback
Old English full "containing all that can be received; having eaten or drunk to repletion; filled; perfect, entire, utter," from Proto-Germanic *fullaz "full" (source also of Old Saxon full, Old Frisian ful, Dutch vol, Old High German fol, German voll, Old Norse fullr, Gothic fulls), from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill." Related: Fuller; fullest.
The adverb is Old English ful "very, fully, entirely, completely" and was common in Middle English (full well, full many, etc.); sense of "quite, exactly, precisely" is from 1580s. Full moon, one with its whole disc illuminated, was Old English fulles monan; first record of full-blood in reference to racial purity is from 1812. Full house is 1710 in the theatrical sense, 1887 in the poker sense (three of a kind and a pair, earlier full-hand, 1850). Full-dress (adj.) "appropriate to a formal occasion" is from 1761, from the noun phrase.
Old English bæc "back," from Proto-Germanic *bakam (cognates: Old Saxon and Middle Dutch bak, Old Frisian bek), with no known connections outside Germanic. In other modern Germanic languages the cognates mostly have been ousted in this sense by words akin to Modern English ridge (such as Danish ryg, German Rücken).
Many Indo-European languages show signs of once having distinguished the horizontal back of an animal (or a mountain range) from the upright back of a human. In other cases, a modern word for "back" may come from a word related to "spine" (Italian schiena, Russian spina) or "shoulder, shoulder blade" (Spanish espalda, Polish plecy).
By synecdoche, "the whole body," especially with reference to clothing. The meaning "upright part of a chair" is from 1520s. As a U.S. football position by 1876, so called from being behind the line of rushers; further distinguished according to relative position as quarterback, halfback, fullback. To turn (one's) back on (someone or something) "ignore" is from early 14c.
To know (something) like the back of one's hand, implying familiarity, is first attested 1893 in a dismissive speech made to a character in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Catriona":
If I durst speak to herself, you may be certain I would never dream of trusting it to you; because I know you like the back of my hand, and all your blustering talk is that much wind to me.
The story, a sequel to "Kidnapped," has a Scottish setting and context, and the back of my hand to you was noted in the late 19th century as a Scottish expression meaning "I will have nothing to do with you" [see Longmuir's edition of Jamieson's Scottish dictionary]. In English generally, the back of (one's) hand has been used to imply contempt and rejection at least since 1300. Perhaps the connection of a menacing dismissal is what made Stevenson choose that particular anatomical reference.
updated on February 02, 2015
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