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Alternative forms[edit]


From behind +‎ hand.


behindhand (comparative more behindhand, superlative most behindhand)

  1. (of a person) Late, tardy, overdue, behind (in accomplishing a task, etc.).
    • 1911, Hugh Walpole, Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill, London: Macmillan, 1919, Chapter 11 p. 221,[1]
      These days before the examinations began were very difficult for everybody, and Perrin began that hideous “getting behind-hand” that made things accumulate so that there seemed no chance of ever catching up.
  2. (of a task or the object of a task) Not at the expected point of completion.
    • 1891, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Chapter 50,[2]
      It was now the season for planting and sowing; many gardens and allotments of the villagers had already received their spring tillage; but the garden and the allotment of the Durbeyfields were behindhand.
    • 1904, Edith Ferguson Black, A Princess in Calico, Philadelphia: The Union Press, Chapter 8, p. 97,[3]
      It was churning day, and there was baking to be done, and the mending was behindhand, and the children needed clothes []
  3. Behind (someone or something moving, a trend, etc.), lagging behind, not keeping up.
    • 1770, Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, London: J. Dodsley, p. 5,[4]
      I have constantly observed, that the generality of people are fifty years, at least, behind-hand in their politicks.
    • 1821, William Hazlitt, Table-Talk, London: John Warren, “On living to one’s-self,” p. 227,[5]
      [The public] is so in awe of its own opinion, that it never dares to form any, but catches up the first idle rumour, lest it should be behind-hand in its judgment, and echoes it till it is deafened with the sound of its own voice.
    • 1902, F. Anstey, A Bayard from Bengal, London: Methuen, Chapter 13, pp. 97-98,[6]
      Not long after the start Mr Bhosh was chagrined to discover that he was all behindhand, and he almost despaired of overtaking any of his fore-runners.
  4. Behind in paying a debt; in arrears.
  5. Not having enough of, lacking (in something).
    • 1777, Samuel Johnson, Letter to James Boswell dated 25 November, 1777, cited in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, London: Charles Dilly, 1791, Volume 2, p. 178,[10]
      [] I have had for some time a very difficult and laborious respiration, but I am better by purges, abstinence, and other methods. I am yet however much behind-hand in my health and rest.
  6. Inferior, less advanced (compared with someone in something).
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Dublin: John Smith, Volume 3, Book 15, Chapter 6, p. 148,[11]
      [] I’ll shew you I scorn to be behind-hand in Civility with you; and as you are not angry for what I have said, so I am not angry for what you have said.
    • 1795, Richard Cumberland, Henry, London: Charles Dilly, Volume 4, Book 11, Chapter 10, p. 184,[12]
      He had enough of that faculty of small talk to be sufficiently eloquent upon insignificant topics; he could point a compliment, or envelope a double meaning with all the readiness of a practitioner in that commodious art, and indeed he was not behindhand with any man of modern honour in the true principles of the sect []
    • 1843, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, “Stave Three,”[13]
      When Scrooge’s nephew laughed in this way—holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions—Scrooge’s niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends, being not a bit behindhand, roared out lustily.
    • 1975, Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory, Oxford University Press, Chapter 4, pp. 136-137,[14]
      And so literary an imagination as Blunden’s was of course not behindhand in recalling and applying Morris.

Derived terms[edit]


behindhand (comparative more behindhand, superlative most behindhand)

  1. Belatedly, tardily.
  2. In debt, or in arrears.