I have a question.

What's the correct term?

Back-end, Back end or Backend

  • I'm a software back-end developer
  • I'm a software back end developer
  • I'm a software backend developer

3 Answers 3


I don't think you're going to be corrected or admonished for using any of these three. Google understands you perfectly no matter how you type it. Wikipedia features all three as well.

Personally, I'd write it as 'backend' or 'back end' as I'm not a fan of over-hyphenating (excuse my hypocrisy) unnecessarily.

(NGram removed)

The NGram essentially supports the argument that you'll find all three in a lot of places, and when I was Googling to test my own theories, a number of large tech sites appeared in each variation of spelling I searched for, leading me back to my first point:

Any of these is acceptable. Choose one you like and get coding.

EDIT: The NGram was misleading. Thanks for pointing that out in the comments.

  • 4
    The Ngram is misleading, as back end can refer to the literal back end of a town, or a house, or other things where you would not use backend. Pairing it with developer or software or some such would be a closer approximation.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 21:14
  • I hate ngram. It is only useful in limited cases. Right.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 22:34
  • I don't "hate" ngrams, but I don't like this one. I don't see how a spike in back end around 1900 pertains to software developers.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 22:44
  • That's the problem. They are useless for style issues. Editors decide style; not algorithms.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 23:59
  • @Lambie - “Useless?” I wouldn’t go that far, especially if you look beyond the pretty graph and click on the links to see the actual usages. You can find a lot of reliable, contextual examples by doing that.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 10:16

You can

  1. Spell it as back end when used as a noun, as for example "I am working on the back end of a project", and
  2. Spell it as back-end when used as an adjective, as for example "The back-end technologies for this project will be Apache, MySQL and PHP."

Hyphenating compound adjectives is common in English, and both the links above use the hyphenated form for adjectival use.

Having said that, I agree that many software developers won't know the difference or care: if it doesn't show as a spelling error when typed into a computer, there is no problem. And if "backend" fails this test many will assume it's not in the computer's dictionary by accident.

  • 3
    Thanks for pointing out possible differences for using a word as noun or adjective! Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 13:46
  • 1
    For clarity, if you were to say non in front of back end would it be best to use backend instead so it is understood that it is not non-back end, but rather non-backend? Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 9:44

From the Microsoft Style Guide:

back end, back-end

Don't use if you can substitute a more specific term, such as server, operating system, database, or network.

Two words as a noun. Hyphenate as an adjective.

  • 1
    Finally someone with a clear opinion!
    – moi
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 12:10
  • ...and the advice of "do not use it" is even wiser (when it's not someone at work forcing you to). "I work on server side programming," not "I work on the back end" sounds more sophisticated/professional to me. I have to indulge unsophisticated recruiters though :)) Commented Jun 3 at 18:13

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