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
In the last decade, breakthroughs in our understanding of the aging process and promising early results from age reversal experiments in animals have dragged longevity research out of the academic backwaters and firmly into the mainstream.How Long Can We Live? New Research Says the Human Lifespan Tops Out at 150 | Edd Gent | June 7, 2021 | Singularity Hub
Until the mid-20th century, these regions were the nation’s economic backwaters, “colonial” producers of raw materials that lagged far behind the rest of the nation in wealth and income.Political power keeps shifting from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. Here’s why. | Keith Orejel | May 20, 2021 | Washington Post
After years in the backwaters of venture capital, edtech had a booming 2020.Edtech stocks are getting hammered but VCs keep writing checks | Natasha Mascarenhas | May 14, 2021 | TechCrunch
It’s fair to say that microfluidics became a scientific backwater.
The trip was billed as a celebration of the policy change that set in motion Shenzhen’s extraordinary transformation from rural backwater to global manufacturing colossus.Xi Jinping’s new economic strategy for China: ‘Dual circulation’ or doublespeak? | claychandler | October 15, 2020 | Fortune
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.