backward

[bak-werd]
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adverb Also back·wards.

adjective


Idioms

    backward and forward, thoroughly: He knew his lesson backward and forward.Also backwards and forwards.

Origin of backward

First recorded in 1250–1300, backward is from the Middle English word bakwarde. See back1, -ward
Related formsback·ward·ly, adverbback·ward·ness, nounun·back·ward, adjective

Synonyms for backward

Antonyms for backward

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for backwards

backward, rearward, back, about, around, retrograde

Examples from the Web for backwards

Contemporary Examples of backwards

Historical Examples of backwards

  • Up and down, backwards and forwards, inside and out, and all hands around.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

  • There are three ways of doing this, forwards, backwards, and sideways.

    Orchesography

    John Weaver

  • Steps which move forwards or backwards, shall be taken to be in the fourth Position.

    Orchesography

    John Weaver

  • He knew them, he would have informed you, backwards and forwards.

    The Innocent Adventuress

    Mary Hastings Bradley

  • And unless we secure it, there will be only a march backwards.

    Another Sheaf

    John Galsworthy


British Dictionary definitions for backwards

backwards

backward

adverb

towards the rear
with the back foremost
in the reverse of usual order or direction
to or towards the past
into a worse statethe patient was slipping backwards
towards the point of origin
bend over backwards, lean over backwards or fall over backwards informal to make a special effort, esp in order to please
know backwards informal to understand completely

backward

adjective

(usually prenominal) directed towards the reara backward glance
retarded in physical, material, or intellectual developmentbackward countries; a backward child
  1. of or relating to the past; conservative or reactionary
  2. (in combination)backward-looking
reluctant or bashfula backward lover
chess (of a pawn) behind neighbouring pawns and unable to be supported by them

adverb

a variant of backwards
Derived Formsbackwardly, adverbbackwardness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for backwards
adv.

1510s, from backward with adverbial genitive. Figurative phrase bend over backwards is recorded from 1901.

backward

adv.

c.1300, from abakward, from Old English on bæc (see back (adv.)) + -weard adjectival and adverbial suffix (see -ward). Old English had the adverb bæcling. As an adjective, from 1550s. Meaning "behindhand with regard to progress" is first attested 1690s. To ring bells backward (from lowest to highest), c.1500, was a signal of alarm for fire or invasion, or to express dismay. Another Middle English word for "backward, wrongly" was arseward (c.1400).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with backwards

backward

In addition to the idiom beginning with backward

  • backward and forward

also see:

  • bend over backward
  • fall over (backwards)
  • know like a book (backwards and forwards)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.