Hind and Behind
This post discusses the words in which the element hind, pertaining to location or movement in or to the rear, appears.
The adjective hind means “back” or “rear.” Hindbrain refers to the rear part of the brain. Hindquarters denotes the rear part of a four-legged animal, though the term is sometimes used informally in place of “buttocks,” and a hind shank is a cut of meat from the upper part of an animal’s hind leg. (Heinie, and its alternate spelling, hiney, are slang terms for the buttocks.)
To hinder is to hold or keep back, and something that does so is a hindrance. (Hinder is also a comparative of the adjective hind, meaning “more behind.”) Hindmost is a synonym for last, seldom used but widely known from the expression “The devil take the hindmost.” Hindsight means “perception of an event after it occurs” and is usually seen in the phrase “in hindsight” or in the expression “Hindsight is twenty-twenty,” which means that one’s vision is clear (at 20/20 acuity) in retrospect because it is easier to analyze and judge an event after the fact than before it occurs.
Hinterland, taken directly from German, means “back country,” connoting an area far inland or remote from urban areas.
Behind stems from the Old English adverb and preposition behindan, meaning “after” or “at the back of”; the first syllable means “by,” and hindan means “from behind.” The compound behindhand, serving as an adjective and an adverb, means “in a backward state” (of development or thinking) or “in the rear”—or, perhaps formed on the model of beforehand, “unable to pay.”
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