Ask Difference

Opposite vs. Behind — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 31, 2023
Opposite refers to a position facing another, whereas behind means at the back of or on the far side of something.
Opposite vs. Behind — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Opposite and Behind

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Key Differences

The word "opposite" indicates a position directly facing another object or a situation where two or more items confront each other across a space. For instance, two people sitting across from each other at a table are opposite one another. "Behind," on the other hand, refers to a position at the back of something else, often suggesting that it's hidden or not in view. If one is standing directly in front of another person, the latter is behind the former.
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Oct 31, 2023
Opposite is often used to express stark contrasts or a relationship between two things that are entirely different from one another. It can also signify that two points are facing each other, either directly or across an area. For example, black is the opposite of white, highlighting a clear dichotomy. Behind does not imply contrast but position; it is a relative term describing the location of an item in relation to others. A runner who is not leading the race is behind the leaders.
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While "opposite" frequently describes a figurative or literal face-to-face situation, it can also denote a completely different state or a reversal, such as opposite directions. Conversely, "behind" often conveys a relationship of support or following, as in one following the ideas or path laid out by another. For example, "He was opposite in opinion" and "He was behind in his work."
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In geometry, opposite has a specific meaning: it denotes two angles or sides that are across from each other in a figure, like in a parallelogram. Behind has no specific geometric significance but is more about a spatial relationship, indicating that an object is at the back of another, like a planet hidden behind the sun from our viewpoint.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023
The application of "opposite" can stretch to encompass antonyms in language or conceptual differences in ideas, principles, or characteristics. "Behind" is rarely used in a conceptual manner; it's more concrete, indicating a spatial or sequential relationship, as one would be behind another in a queue or a child behind a parent in age.
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Comparison Chart

Positional Reference

Faces another object or direction.
At the back of something else.
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Implied Relationship

Confrontational or contrasting.
Sequential or supportive.
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Usage in Geometry

Denotes symmetry or opposition.
Not specifically used.
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Figurative Sense

Often denotes antonymy or reversal.
Can imply lagging or remaining in the past.
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Example in Sentence

"She sat opposite him."
"She stood behind him."
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Compare with Definitions

Opposite

Facing another direction or position
The cafe is opposite the bank.
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Behind

At the back part or rear of something
The garden is behind the house.
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Opposite

Totally different in nature or character
Her ideas were the complete opposite of his.
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Behind

Less advanced in a position or area
She's behind in her studies.
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Opposite

Directly across from something else
The opposite page contained the chart.
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Behind

Supporting or backing up
The team is solidly behind their coach.
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Opposite

Placed or located directly across from something else or from each other
Opposite sides of a building.
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Behind

At or to the far side of (something), typically so as to be hidden by it
The recording machinery was kept behind screens
The sun came out from behind a cloud
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Opposite

Facing the other way; moving or tending away from each other
Opposite directions.
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Behind

Following or further back than (another member of a moving group)
We were stuck behind a slow-moving tractor
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Opposite

Being the other of two complementary or mutually exclusive things
The opposite sex.
An opposite role to the lead in the play.
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Behind

In support of or giving guidance to (someone else)
The power behind the throne
Whatever you decide to do, I'll be behind you
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Opposite

Altogether different, as in nature, quality, or significance
The effect of the medication was opposite to that intended.
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Behind

After the departure or death of (someone)
He left behind him a manuscript which was subsequently published
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Opposite

Sharply contrasting; antithetical
Had opposite views on the subject.
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Behind

Less advanced than (someone or something) in achievement or development
The government admitted it is ten years behind the West in PC technology
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Opposite

Growing in pairs on either side of a stem
Opposite leaves.
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Behind

Having a lower score than (another competitor)
Woosnam moved to ten under par, five shots behind Fred Couples
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Opposite

Arranged on the same radius as another part, as stamens and petals.
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Behind

At or to the far side of something
Campbell grabbed him from behind
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Opposite

One that is opposite or contrary to another.
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Behind

In a particular place after leaving or after others have moved on
Don't leave me behind
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Opposite

An opponent or antagonist.
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Behind

Further back than other members of a moving group
Ben led the way, with Joe a short distance behind
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Opposite

An antonym.
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Behind

(in a contest or match) having a score lower than that of the opposing team
England were still 382 runs behind
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Opposite

In an opposite position
They sat opposite at the table.
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Behind

Late in accomplishing a task
I'm getting behind with my work
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Opposite

Across from or facing
Parked the car opposite the bank.
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Behind

A person's buttocks
She slid inelegantly down a few steps on her behind
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Opposite

In a complementary dramatic role to
He played opposite her.
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Behind

A kick that sends the ball over a behind line, or a touch that sends it between the inner posts, scoring one point.
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Opposite

Located directly across from something else, or from each other.
She saw him walking on the opposite side of the road.
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Behind

In, to, or toward the rear
We walked behind.
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Opposite

(botany) Of leaves and flowers, positioned directly across from each other on a stem.
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Behind

In a place or condition that has been passed or left
I left my gloves behind.
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Opposite

Facing in the other direction.
They were moving in opposite directions.
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Behind

In arrears; late
I fell behind in my payments.
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Opposite

Of either of two complementary or mutually exclusive things.
He is attracted to the opposite sex.
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Behind

Below the standard level; in or into an inferior position
Don't fall behind in class.
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Opposite

Extremely different; inconsistent; contrary; repugnant; antagonistic.
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Behind

Slow
My watch is running behind.
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Opposite

Something opposite or contrary to something else.
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Behind

(Archaic) Yet to come or in reserve
"the expectation of some new possession, or of some enjoyment yet behind" (Samuel Johnson).
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Opposite

A person or thing that is entirely different from or the reverse of someone or something else; used to show contrast between two people or two things.
She is the opposite of her ex-boyfriend who abused her both physically and verbally nearly every day for five years. She now works as an advocate and supportive listener for others who have endured abusive relationships.
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Behind

At the back of or in the rear of
He sat behind her.
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Opposite

An opponent.
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Behind

On the farther side or other side of; beyond
The broom is behind the door.
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Opposite

An antonym.
"Up" is the opposite of "down".
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Behind

In a place or time that has been passed or left by
Their worries are behind them.
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Opposite

(mathematics) An additive inverse.
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Behind

Later than
The plane was behind schedule.
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Opposite

In an opposite position.
I was on my seat and she stood opposite.
Where's the bus station? -Over there, just opposite.
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Behind

Used to indicate deficiency in performance
Behind us in technological development.
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Opposite

Facing, or across from.
He lives opposite the pub.
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Behind

Hidden or concealed by
Hatred hidden behind a bland smile.
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Opposite

In a complementary role to.
He played opposite Marilyn Monroe.
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Behind

In the background of; underlying
Behind your every action is self-interest.
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Opposite

(television) On another channel at the same time.
The game show Just Men! aired opposite The Young and the Restless on CBS.
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Behind

In a position or attitude of support
The leaders have the army behind them.
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Opposite

Placed over against; standing or situated over against or in front; facing; - often with to; as, a house opposite to the Exchange; the concert hall and the state theater stood opposite each other on the plaza.
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Behind

In pursuit of
The police were hard behind the escapees.
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Opposite

Situated on the other end of an imaginary line passing through or near the middle of an intervening space or object; - of one object with respect to another; as, the office is on the opposite side of town; - also used both to describe two objects with respect to each other; as, the stores were on opposite ends of the mall.
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Behind

(Informal) The buttocks.
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Opposite

Applied to the other of two things which are entirely different; other; as, the opposite sex; the opposite extreme; antonyms have opposite meanings.
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Behind

At or to the back or far side of.
The children were hiding behind the wall.
The sun went behind the clouds.
Look behind you!
In front of
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Opposite

Extremely different; inconsistent; contrary; repugnant; antagonistic.
Novels, by which the reader is misled into another sort of pleasure opposite to that which is designed in an epic poem.
Particles of speech have divers, and sometimes almost opposite, significations.
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Behind

(figuratively) Concealed by (something serving as a facade or disguise).
Behind the smile was a cruel intention.
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Opposite

Set over against each other, but separated by the whole diameter of the stem, as two leaves at the same node.
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Behind

(figuratively) In the past, from the viewpoint of.
All my problems are behind me.
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Opposite

One who opposes; an opponent; an antagonist.
The opposites of this day's strife.
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Behind

Less forward or advanced than; after.
Ahead of
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Opposite

That which is opposed or contrary in character or meaning; as, sweetness and its opposite; up is the opposite of down.
The virtuous man meets with more opposites and opponents than any other.
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Behind

After in physical progress or distance.
Smith finished the race a lap behind the others.
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Opposite

Two words that express opposing concepts;
To him the opposite of gay was depressed
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Behind

After in developmental progress, score, grade, etc.; inferior to.
I'm ranked sixth in the French class, behind five other pupils.
In the cricket match, England are 120 runs behind India.
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Opposite

A relation of direct opposition;
We thought Sue was older than Bill but just the reverse was true
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Behind

After in time.
London is nine hours behind Tokyo.
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Opposite

A contestant that you are matched against
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Behind

Responsible for, being the creator or controller of.
Who is behind these terrorist attacks?
Mr Jones was the man behind the redevelopment plan.
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Opposite

Something inverted in sequence or character or effect;
When the direct approach failed he tried the inverse
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Behind

Underlying, being the reason for or explanation of.
What is behind this unexpected decision?
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Opposite

Being directly across from each other; facing;
And I on the opposite shore will be, ready to ride and spread the alarm
We lived on opposite sides of the street
At opposite poles
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Behind

In support of.
The republicans are fully behind their candidate.
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Opposite

Of leaves etc; growing in pairs on either side of a stem;
Opposite leaves
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Behind

As a result or consequence of.
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Opposite

Moving or facing away from each other;
Looking in opposite directions
They went in opposite directions
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Behind

At or in the rear or back part of something.
The water flows out through the pipe, and the sediment collects behind.
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Opposite

The other one of a complementary pair;
The opposite sex
The two chess kings are set up on squares of opposite colors
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Behind

In a rearward direction.
We ran and ran, without once looking behind.
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Opposite

Altogether different in nature or quality or significance;
The medicine's effect was opposite to that intended
It is said that opposite characters make a union happiest
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Behind

So as to come after someone or something in position, distance, advancement, ranking, time, etc.
The slower runners were left a long way behind.
In the cricket match, England finished a long way behind.
The worst thing about autumn is that winter follows behind.
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Opposite

Characterized by opposite extremes; completely opposed;
In diametric contradiction to his claims
Diametrical (or opposite) points of view
Opposite meanings
Extreme and indefensible polar positions
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Behind

So as to be still in place after someone or something has departed or ceased to exist.
I couldn't be bothered to carry the ironing board, so I left it behind.
He stayed behind after the war.
He left behind a legacy of death and sorrow.
The island was inundated by the sea, leaving not a trace behind.
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Opposite

Directly facing each other;
The two photographs lay face-to-face on the table
Lived all their lives in houses face-to-face across the street
They sat opposite at the table
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Behind

Backward in time or order of succession; past.
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Opposite

In a contrary position or manner
He voted opposite to the majority.
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Behind

Behind the scenes in a theatre; backstage.
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Opposite

Antonym or word with contrasting meaning
‘Hot’ is the opposite of ‘cold’.
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Behind

(archaic) Not yet brought forward, produced, or exhibited to view; out of sight; remaining.
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Behind

Not advanced to the required or expected degree; overdue or in arrears.
I'm very behind in my schedule.
My employer is two paychecks behind on paying my salary.
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Behind

(of a watch or clock) Slow.
My watch is behind by four minutes.
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Behind

The rear, back-end.
This part fits under the behind of the vehicle.
She sneaked up on me from behind.
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Behind

(informal) The buttocks, bottom, butt.
I was stung on the behind by a wasp.
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Behind

(Australian rules football) A one-point score.
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Behind

The catcher.
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Behind

In the Eton College field game, any of a group of players consisting of two "shorts" (who try to kick the ball over the bully) and a "long" (who defends the goal).
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Behind

On the side opposite the front or nearest part; on the back side of; at the back of; on the other side of; as, behind a door; behind a hill.
A tall Brabanter, behind whom I stood.
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Behind

Left after the departure of, whether this be by removing to a distance or by death.
A small part of what he left behind him.
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Behind

Left a distance by, in progress of improvement Hence: Inferior to in dignity, rank, knowledge, or excellence, or in any achievement.
I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
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Behind

At the back part; in the rear.
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Behind

Toward the back part or rear; backward; as, to look behind.
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Behind

Not yet brought forward, produced, or exhibited to view; out of sight; remaining.
We can not be sure that there is no evidence behind.
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Behind

Backward in time or order of succession; past.
Forgetting those things which are behind.
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Behind

After the departure of another; as, to stay behind.
Leave not a rack behind.
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Behind

The backside; the rump.
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Behind

The fleshy part of the human body that you sit on;
He deserves a good kick in the butt
Are you going to sit on your fanny and do nothing?
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Behind

Having the lower score or lagging position in a contest;
Behind by two points
The 8th inning found the home team trailing
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Behind

In or to or toward the rear;
He followed behind
Seen from behind, the house is more imposing than it is from the front
The final runners were far behind
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Behind

Remaining in a place or condition that has been left or departed from;
When he died he left much unfinished work behind
Left a large family behind
The children left their books behind
He took off with a squeal of tires and left the other cars far behind
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Behind

Of timepieces;
The clock is almost an hour slow
My watch is running behind
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Behind

In or into an inferior position;
Fell behind in his studies
Their business was lagging behind in the competition for customers
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Behind

In debt;
He fell behind with his mortgage payments
A month behind in the rent
A company that has been run behindhand for years
In arrears with their utility bills
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Behind

Delayed or late relative to something else
He's behind on his payments.
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Common Curiosities

How do you use "opposite" in a sentence to mean contrast?

"Their political views are opposite."
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What does "opposite" mean in relationships?

In relationships, "opposite" often means two people have contrasting characteristics or perspectives.
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Can "behind" mean something other than physical location?

Yes, "behind" can also refer to being delayed or supporting someone in a non-physical sense.
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Is "behind" used only to describe time or position?

No, "behind" can describe support, cause ("the reason behind"), or being hidden.
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What does "directly opposite" mean in spatial terms?

It means being right across from something, with no deviations to the side.
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Can "behind" mean supporting someone's ideas?

Yes, it can mean providing support or agreement with someone's ideas.
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When something is "opposite" in nature, what does that mean?

It means that it has a fundamentally different quality or essence.
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What is the "opposite side" referring to?

It refers to the side that is directly across from another in position or viewpoint.
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What does it mean to fall "behind" in a race?

It means to lag or be closer to the end than the front.
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In storytelling, what does it mean if a character is "behind" the plot?

It implies that the character has not yet understood the plot's developments.
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How would you describe someone being "behind" in their work?

They have not progressed as far or as fast as expected.
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Does "opposite" have a different meaning in math?

Yes, in math, "opposite" can refer to angles or sides facing each other across a shape.
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Can "opposite" refer to mutual positions, like in seating?

Yes, two people can sit opposite each other.
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What does it mean if a house is "behind" another house?

It's located at the back of the other house, possibly obscured by it.
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Can "opposite" imply a competitive relationship?

While not necessarily competitive, "opposite" can imply a stance or position that is directly against another.
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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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