I want to describe a person's position who is sitting next to another one on the bench, but her body is not in a parallel form with him and she has turned her upper body to somewhere opposite in a way that her back is visible to that person, not her face.

As you can find in above, it is very long to describe; I want a word or a short phrase to describe this position.

  • "Jane sat next to John with her back to him" ... or, if she is deliberately looking away, "with her back turned to him" May 27, 2013 at 20:47
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    I understand why you've done it, but I think all those s/he's just make things confusing. You might consider changing it so the one who was already seated is consistently male (or female), and the one who sits next to them is consistently female (or male). I have no idea whether either of those gender assignments would be considered sexist by comparison with the other one! :) May 27, 2013 at 20:52
  • @FumbleFingers Please forget the matter of s/he's. My question is about something else and sex doesn't have a role in the meaning. May 27, 2013 at 20:59
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    @Persian: I'm simply advising you that overuse of "evasive" forms probably loses more in clarity than it gains in "correctness". You'll note that StoneyB has the good sense to recast his suggestions along the lines I put forward. It would have been tiresome to have to decode "S/he sat next to him/her with her/his back to him/her". May 27, 2013 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


There's no one word or short phrase that will capture all that. If the posture is deliberate, that intent may be expressed by the verb snub or cold-shoulder—but neither expresses a physical posture, only a pointed refusal to engage.

Here are some possible ways of expressing the posture—the first group are neutral with respect to intent, the second express a deliberate snub:

Jane sat next to John with her back him.
Jane sat next to John, leaning toward her neighbor on the other side.
With John to her left, Jane stared right, at the lively argument by the buffet.
John had a discouraging view of Jane's back on his right.

Jane sat next to John, pointedly turning her back to him.
As she sat between them, Jane turned pointedly to George, leaving John baffled and fuming. Speaking animatedly to George on her right, Jane gave the cold shoulder to John on her left.
Jane squared around to gaze at the buffet, presenting John with her back.

But this is all 'way over in writers.se territory.


A one word answer is impossible but I might be able to help out with a shorter phrase, although StoneyB's suggestions are fantastic and your English would really go up a notch if you decided to adopt any of his.

My suggestion would be: Jane sat next to John and shunned him (as she turned her back to him). The clause within brackets say how she ignored him but the idea of not paying any attention to him is encapsulated in the word, shun.

  • Thanks! It's a good answer. And yes! StoneyB is a gift to non native even native speakers of this site. I learned a lot from his answers. :) Jun 3, 2013 at 11:06

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