View synonyms for backward


[ bak-werd ]


  1. toward the back or rear.

    Antonyms: forward

  2. with the back foremost.
  3. in the reverse of the usual or right way:

    counting backward from 100.

  4. toward the past:

    to look backward over one's earlier mistakes.

  5. toward a less advanced state; retrogressively:

    Since the overthrow of the president the country has moved steadily backward.


  1. directed toward the back or past.
  2. reversed; returning:

    a backward movement;

    a backward journey.

  3. behind in time or progress; late; slow:

    a backward learner;

    a backward country.

    Synonyms: underdeveloped, retarded, tardy

  4. bashful or hesitant; shy:

    a backward lover.

    Synonyms: retiring, timid, disinclined


/ ˈbækwəd /


  1. usually prenominal directed towards the rear

    a backward glance

  2. retarded in physical, material, or intellectual development

    a backward child

    backward countries

    1. of or relating to the past; conservative or reactionary
    2. ( in combination )


  3. reluctant or bashful

    a backward lover

  4. chess (of a pawn) behind neighbouring pawns and unable to be supported by them


  1. a variant of backwards

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Derived Forms

  • ˈbackwardly, adverb
  • ˈbackwardness, noun

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Other Words From

  • back·ward·ly adverb
  • back·ward·ness noun
  • un·back·ward adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of backward1

First recorded in 1250–1300, backward is from the Middle English word bakwarde. See back 1, -ward

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. backward and forward, thoroughly: Also backwards and forwards.

    He knew his lesson backward and forward.

More idioms and phrases containing backward

In addition to the idiom beginning with backward , also see bend over backward ; fall over (backwards) ; know like a book (backwards and forwards) .

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Example Sentences

Yet it’s unmistakably present, and since the movie itself contains sequences that move, in essence, forward and backward — and are the same yet different when you watch them — it functions, in a way, like a kind of cinematic Sator square.

From Vox

Granted, your business likely doesn’t bring in the same revenue as Amazon, but you can still work the formula backward from Amazon’s actual revenue, determine what percentage that loss accounts for and then apply that to your revenue.

Lift is an arrow pointing upward, and drag is one pointing backward.

Police in Buffalo, New York, reported 75-year-old Martin Gugino “tripped and fell” until a video showed officers shoving him backward to the pavement and leaving him bleeding with a fractured skull.

The team added backward-facing barbs to the surface of the needles.

His speeches, which he wrote himself, were frequently brilliant, even if they too often pointed backward instead of forward.

The camera dollied backward along the length of the tower's staircase while simultaneously its lens zoomed forward.

Now Benny lifted his head up, slapped his knee, and laughed so hard that he almost tumbled over backward.

Reputation, or how we seem, seems to be much more important these days than who we are—which is obviously backward.

Your fiction is preoccupied with the past—even the contemporary stories have an aura of looking backward.

Sol got up, slowly; took a backward step into the yard; filled his lungs, opened his mouth, made his eyes round.

Then a shower of dirt flew into their faces and both Jolly Robin and his wife tumbled over backward.

A like indifference to the position of a picture, and of a letter, has been observed among backward races.

But they went slowly, with much half-whispered, sullen conferring and many a backward glance at Marius and those with him.

More than nine-tenths of these were made in Birmingham, and, of course, our tradesmen were not backward with their own specimens.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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