water held or forced back, as by a dam, flood, or tide.
a place or state of stagnant backwardness: This area of the country is a backwater that continues to resist progress.
an isolated, peaceful place.
a stroke executed by pushing a paddle forward, causing a canoe to move backward.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use backwater in a sentence
When you talk about midtown Manhattan as being a commercial backwater, I find it mind boggling.
They both think that Los Angeles, long maligned as a culinary backwater, is the best food city in America.
North Korea is an economic wreck and a technological backwater.
The president is likely headed to a bureaucratic backwater as his famed office is renovated.President Obama Eyes New Oval Office While the White House Undergoes Renovations | Lauren Ashburn | February 3, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
In contrast, says Aftergood, “security has traditionally been a backwater that hires former military personnel and muscle men.”
The rugged pioneer community had become, I suddenly saw, a rural backwater.The Idyl of Twin Fires | Walter Prichard Eaton
Once swung out of that backwater they had been swept away, powerless to know where they went, to guess what was their destination.The Hidden Places | Bertrand W. Sinclair
At last only fourteen of the English were left alive and they got hopelessly penned in a backwater.Round the Wonderful World | G. E. Mitton
Why, you both look as you did that night the backwater of the South Fork came into our cabin.The Three Partners | Bret Harte
The blue heron rose heavily from the backwater, and winged his slow flight high above the trees.Creatures of the Night | Alfred W. Rees
British Dictionary definitions for backwater
a body of stagnant water connected to a river
water held or driven back, as by a dam, flood, or tide
an isolated, backward, or intellectually stagnant place or condition
(intr) to reverse the direction of a boat, esp to push the oars of a rowing boat
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
Other Idioms and Phrases with backwater
Reverse a position, take back a statement, or otherwise retreat, as in We're sure that the senator will back water on raising taxes. This term literally refers to a vessel that moves backward in the water because its oars, paddles, or paddlewheel are reversed. It soon was transferred to other kinds of reversal. [Second half of 1700s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.