- 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.
Origin of backwater
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for backwater
In contrast, says Aftergood, “security has traditionally been a backwater that hires former military personnel and muscle men.”Intelligence Community Aims to Get Tough on Leaks
June 21, 2012
State of Wonder borrows some plot points; Marina is delayed in a backwater before heading down the river, like Marlow.Ann Patchett’s 'State of Wonder' and Other Twists on Classic Novels
December 7, 2011
Egypt, once a leader in the Arab world and the Islamic world, has fallen to a being a backwater.Crossroad for Arab Dictators
January 15, 2011
Western Europe—sticking out into the cold North Atlantic, far from the centers of action—had always been a backwater.Why the West Rules—For Now
December 25, 2010
To be sure, patriot-Americans are not know-nothing nativists or backwater rubes, nor are post-Americans traitors.A 'Black President' Is of No Value to America
November 4, 2008
The sun had set, and the backwater, in deep shadow, was filling with a gentle haze.Howards End
E. M. Forster
Was it the backwater of my disgrace, I wonder, that has overwhelmed poor Gill?'Lord Kilgobbin
Then he had seemed to himself in the backwater, out of the throng of existence.The Arbiter
Lady F. E. E. Bell
He came to the island, and let his boat slide into the backwater.
The backwater was not a happy place—they would not stay there a single minute.
- 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
Word Origin and History for backwater
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper