# Back To Back?

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Back to back homerun.

What does the first 'back' mean? And what does the second one mean?
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Interesting, Taka. It's mid-19th century, so possibly expanded from the poker-playing meaning: two cards of the same denomination dealt consecutively, the first face down and the second face up (this is the way of dealing both blackjack and the beginning of 5-card stud). Hence the cards appear to be back-to-back.
From card games. Interesting.

But I've heard 'back to back to back homeruns' for three homeruns in a row...How do you explain this?
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... and four in a row would be back-to-back-to-back-to-back homeruns, Taka. Surely that makes sense!
I can visualize the situation where two cards are back-to-back. It's something like:

(the back of the first card)<--to<--(the back of the second card).

But if I follow your instruction of the game, the third card won't be another back-to-back because it's going to be:

(the face of the second card)<--to<--(the back of the third card)

or

(the face of the second card)<--to<--(the face of the third card)

,depending on how you put the third card.
And homeruns don't have any backs or faces. C'mon, Taka-- stop trying to use logic! The phrase has been transferred from a concrete meaning in poker to a metaphoric or idiomatic expression in baseball.
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And homeruns don't have any backs or faces.

Then how do you expand the expression 'back-to-back' to describe the third card on the second one when you actually play the game?

C'mon, Taka-- stop trying to use logic!

I mysef don't actually think that everything can be explained by logic, really. But I do believe there should be some reason, historical, psychological, or whatever, for the exsistence. I'm just trying to find why you can continually add 'to back.' Logic is just a first approach to it.

The third back is added because there are already two backs, and the fourth back is added because there are already three backs. Back has no more significance as a descriptive part of an object when the phrase has migrated to the baseball stadium, so they are merely cumulative.

How do you describe the third card on the second one when you actually play a card game?
We don't. We are too busy keeping a poker face and estimating our chances of drawing an ace on the next hit.

Incidentally, some other uses, none of which have physical backs:

Back-to-Back Escrow
Arrangements necessary when a person plans the sale of one property and the purchase of another, simultaneously.

Back-to-Back Letter of Credit Definition: An importer procures a letter of credit from his bank in favor of a foreign supplier, and at the same time receives a letter of credit in his favor from the customer whom he is reselling the goods. IDefinition: f the two letters of credit are carefully matched as to documentation, the importer is qualified to finance the transaction.

back-to-back life sentences
n. slang for consecutive life terms imposed by a judge when there were two crimes committed by the defendant, both of which can result in punishment of a life term, such as two murders, or a murder and a rape involving aggravated assault. The purpose of making the sentences subsequent ("back-to-back") and not "concurrent" (served at the same time) is to lessen the chance of parole, since if parole were permissible after 25 years, the defendant would then begin the second "life" sentence and would wait another 25 years for a parole hearing.

Hi,

There's also 'back to back' in the sense of two men fighting a circle of enemies, each protecting the other's back. The idea is that you have complete trust in each other, against the world.

Rudyard Kipling has a line: Why, back to back they met an attack that neither could face alone!

An expression that seems to have come into use in fairly recent times is I've got your back, meaning you do what must be done and I'll protect you against attack from behind.

These expressions are used figuratively, of course, rather than for actual fighting.

Best wishes, Clive
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