Example: “I’ve got your back!” Randy shouted to Steve. Despite this assurance, Steve was shot twenty-seven times by the other paintball team. Thirteen of them were in the back.
Iddy has heard several explanations for the origin of ‘got your back‘. Let’s start with the least likely and progress to the most:
- If you put your arm around someone’s shoulders to comfort them, you physically have their back in your grasp.
- In some ancient forms of combat involving swords and shields, a ‘buddy’ system of fighting with your back to another friendly soldier’s protected you from attack in that direction.
- Still in the world of combat, but more recent, the phrase arose in the Second World War. As buildings and other defensive positions were cleared by squads, the first soldier to enter would be reliant on others to protect him from the rear as he concentrated fully on what lay ahead of him. This explanation seems best as it agrees with the similar phrase ‘Watch my back’ and fits in well with the timeline of the idiom’s introduction to the language.
Iddy’s upset as he didn’t ask anybody to get his in the first place. And now he feels a bit spineless.