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to bend over backwards: meaning and explanation

If you bend over backwards, then you try your best or do everything you can to help somebody or to achieve something.

Note that this idiom is often used in negative contexts, to communicate the idea that you have done everything you can to help somebody, and that this is not appreciated. e.g. I’ve bent over backwards for him over the last few months and he didn’t even think to say thank you.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Dictation #1

Accent: Australia

, .
I’ve for him years, and ship at .
I’ve over backwards for him the years, and he just jumps ship at the opportunity.

About the sentence

…then he jumps ship at the first opportunity…

At the first opportunity is a more formal alternative to as soon as possible. e.g. I plan on speaking to head office about this at the first opportunity.

Here is an exercise to practise the expression ‘to jump ship’.

Dictation #2

Accent: England (RP)

Dictation #3

Accent: North America


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Can you remember a time from your professional or personal life when “bending over backwards” had positive or negative consequences?
  • In what situations is it appropriate to “bend over backwards” for others?
  • How do individuals balance the desire to be helpful with maintaining healthy personal boundaries?

Photo by Carl Newton on Unsplash

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