hang back

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hang back (third-person singular simple present hangs back, present participle hanging back, simple past and past participle hung back)

  1. (informal) To wait; to falter; to avoid proceeding through reluctance.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 36, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC, page 182:
      From this one poor hunt, then, the best lance out of all Nantucket, surely he will not hang back, when every foremast-hand has clutched a whetstone?
    • 2015 May 25, Daniel Taylor, “Norwich reach Premier League after early blitz sees off Middlesbrough”, in The Guardian (London)[1]:
      Ayala’s mix-up with Dean Whitehead left Cameron Jerome advancing from the flank, probably expecting at least one opponent would come across to block off the shot. It never happened. The next defender, Ben Gibson, hung back, mistakenly thinking Jerome would look for a team-mate, and the goalkeeper, Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, also seemed to be caught in two minds.