What Does Buy Back Mean?

To Buy Back Meaning

Definition: To purchase something that has already been sold.

To buy something back from someone is to regain possession of if after you have already sold once. Perhaps you changed your mind, or perhaps you were never meant to sell it. But, for whatever reason, you want it back, and you must pay the new owner for it.

 Usually, you buy back at the same price it was sold, although there may be instances where you have to pay more or less than the original price.

Also, in the business world, a buy-back is when a company buys back a portion of its outstanding shares. This allows companies to reduce the number of outstanding shares, which gives the remaining owners a larger proportion of the company.

Origin of to Buy Back

define buyback Buy is an American English word from the late 1800s that comes from the Old English bycgan, which means to pay for, acquire.

To buy something back arose naturally from the idea that back meant return, so buying back would be returning what one has paid for.

The phrase was already popular by the late 1800s, as we can see in two early examples. The first is from a September 1884 edition of Little Folks,

  • When I am rich, and can buy back Riversdale, Eddie will be quite happy.

The second example is from a collection of short stories from 1894-5, entitled Dick and His Cat and Other Tales,

  • Peter said he should buy the donkey back.

Examples of to Buy Back

In the modern day, people might say,

  • I sold some of my mom’s old coats but had to buy them back when I realized they had sentimental value to her.


  • The company bought back its shares at a higher price and didn’t make a profit.

People might also ask,

Were you able to buy back the books at the same price?

Actually, they let me have them cheaper. They didn’t want them anymore.

More Examples

  • One thing that she’s already reclaimed is her wedding ring, which her husband chivalrously bought back from the pawnbrokers. –The Independent
  • Art Van also could be bought back from the firm by the company’s management, or be taken public. –The Detroit News


The phrase buy something back is to pay the person you sold an item to repossess the item.