[bak-wosh, -wawsh]


Nautical. water thrown backward by the motion of oars, propellers, paddle wheels, etc.
Aeronautics. the portion of the wash of an aircraft that flows to the rear, usually created by the power plant.Compare wash(def 31).
a condition, usually undesirable, that continues long after the event which caused it.

verb (used with object)

to affect, as by hitting, rocking, or splashing, with a backwash: a powerful cutter backwashing the skiers.
to clean out (a clogged filter) by reversing the flow of fluid: Backwash the swimming pool's filters regularly.

Origin of backwash

First recorded in 1765–75; back2 + wash
Related formsback·wash·er, noun

Synonyms for backwash Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for backwash

aftermath, wake, result

Examples from the Web for backwash

Historical Examples of backwash

  • The water is not deep enough to drown him yet, if he is not carried away by the backwash.'

  • The backwash of civilization in the Orient is not our concern.

    Peking Dust

    Ellen N. La Motte

  • I must write you of what I have seen, the other side, the backwash.

    The Backwash of War

    Ellen N. La Motte

  • One seems on the other side of creation's wall—in the backwash of the waters.

    The Secrets of a Kuttite

    Edward O. Mousley

  • Does the Sahib know whither the backwash of the flood had borne me?

    Soldiers Three

    Rudyard Kipling

British Dictionary definitions for backwash



a sucking movement of water, such as that of retreating wavesCompare swash (def. 4)
water washed backwards by the motion of oars or other propelling devices
the backward flow of air set up by an aircraft's engines
a condition resulting from a previous event; repercussion


(tr) to remove oil from (combed wool)
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 backwash

1876, "motion of a receeding wave," from back (adj.) + wash (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper