I know that 背 can also mean height, and also refers to the spine of the book when used with books. I also know that 椅子の裏 refers to the bottom of the chair while 椅子の背 refers to the back of the chair. But beyond that, if I am to use them with normal objects, what is the difference? For example, is there a difference between 窓の裏 and 窓の背 or 扇風機の裏 and 扇風機の背?

1 Answer 1


I was browsing BCCWJ with the keyword='の背に'. 背 in the meaning of the question is used for 椅子, ソファ, フォーク. As you mention in the question, it can be used for books as well. Practically these are pretty much all for which 背 in that sense can be used. (Cf. As regards with books, it is one of many jargons.)

I cannot come up with other objects for which the usage extends naturally.

I guess 窓 is too symmetrical to call one side 背. Using 背面 may be possible, but usually 内/外側 will be used.

As for 扇風機, the part connecting the fan part and the bottom part won't be called 背. 首 is possibly a term to call it although I never really thought about where exactly 扇風機の首 refers. The related expression commonly used is 首振り which means the head of 扇風機 swinging.

  • I was initially confused in that when I google exact searched for Xの背, I would normally get results, but then lookin this up again I realize that these results seem to not be using the "back" meaning of 背. Thanks! :)
    – MegaZeroX
    Jan 3, 2022 at 4:26

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