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The part of a network infrastructure that carries data gathered from smaller lines, like LANs or subnetworks.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
backbone (noun)
- spinal column spine
something that resembles a backbone as
a) a chief mountain ridge, range, or system
b) the foundation or most substantial or sturdiest part of something
c) the longest chain of atoms or groups of atoms in a usually long molecule (as a polymer or protein)
d) the primary high-speed hardware and transmission lines of a telecommunications network (as the Internet)
firm and resolute character
- spine
Backbone (Wikipedia)

The backbone is the vertebral column of a vertebrate.

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