Backbone

(The) The main stay.

“Sober ...practical men ... constitute the moral backbone of the country.” —W Booth: In Darkest England (Part i. 2, p. 17).

To the backbone.
Thoroughly, as true to the backbone.

“A union man, and a nationalist to the backbone.” —T. Roosevelt: T. H. Benton, chap. v. p. 113.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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