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answer back

Meaning: to reply rudely to someone who is in a position of authority, such as a teacher, a parent or a coach

For example:

  • answer back Harry's students don't respect him. Some of them even answer back rudely when he asks them to do something.

  • answer sb back My son answers his mother back when she tells him to do something like clean his room. He says things like "Clean it yourself!"

Nouns often used as objects with
answer back: parent, teacher, coach, supervisor, manager, warder

Note: This phrasal verb is usually only used to describe the behaviour of a subordinate towards an authority figure, such as a child towards a parent, a student towards a teacher, a junior employee towards a workplace supervisor, or a prisoner towards a warder.

Quick Quiz:

If a teacher has students answering him back, it means the students
  1. really like him
  2. are afraid of him
  3. don't like him or respect him

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