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a native English suffix denoting spatial or temporal direction, as specified by the initial element:
toward; seaward; afterward; backward.
Also, -wards.
Origin of -ward
Middle English; Old English -weard towards; cognate with German -wärts; akin to Latin vertere to turn (see verse)
Usage note
Both -ward and -wards occur in such words as backward, forward, upward, and toward. The -ward form is by far the more common in edited American English writing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for -ward


(forming adjectives) indicating direction towards: a backward step, heavenward progress
(forming adverbs) a variant and the usual US and Canadian form of -wards
Word Origin
Old English -weard towards
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for -ward

adverbial suffix expressing direction, Old English -weard "toward," literally "turned toward," sometimes -weardes, with genitive singular ending of neuter adjectives, from Proto-Germanic *warth (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian -ward, Old Norse -verðr), variant of PIE *wert- "to turn, wind," from root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). The original notion is of "turned toward."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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