Both rear and back mean the back of something. But is there a distinction between the two phrases: rear view and back view? Since rear view is most frequently used in rear-view mirror, I naturally think that

  • rear view means looking towards the back;
  • back view means looking at the back.

But I am not sure whether there is such a distinction, or whether this distinction (if there is) is strictly observed.

  • 4
    Yes, there is such a distinction, and no, it's not strictly observed. If I mentioned the "rear view" of my house, people would probably guess I meant the view from inside through the rear windows, and "back view" would make more people think I meant looking at the back of the house from the outside, but nobody would be sure
    – gotube
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


The distinction is similar to what you stated:

  1. Rear view typically means looking toward the back, either directly or indirectly (even though you might not be facing the back). The "rear view mirror" in a car enables the driver to look toward the back while still facing front. It's also used figuratively when referring to things that happened in the past.

  2. Back view would typically mean looking directly at the back. It doesn't mean that you're in the back, however. You could be in the front and have a "back view," which means you can see the back from the front.

The meanings are completely different when you're talking about body parts.

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