(often used with a singular verb) wooded or partially uncleared and unsettled districts.
any remote or isolated area.

adjective Also back·wood, back·woods·y.

of or relating to the backwoods.
unsophisticated; uncouth.

Origin of backwoods

An Americanism dating back to 1700–10; back1 + wood1(def 7)

Synonyms for backwoods

2. hinterland, provinces, wilds, woodland; sticks, boondocks, boonies, bush, backwater. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for backwood

Historical Examples of backwood

  • Colony was divided from colony by many miles of forest and backwood.

  • I could not spin as could my mother, who had passed her childhood in backwood life.

    Life on the Stage

    Clara Morris

  • But backwood hunters were bold fellows in those days, and Indians were by no means noted for reckless courage.

    Silver Lake

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • I loved the hearing of them, in the various dialects of the protagonists, from a lordly lisp to a backwood burr.

    Caught by the Turks

    Francis Yeats-Brown

  • Thus ended the wedding of Isaac Younker—a fair specimen, by the way, of a backwood's wedding in the early settlement of the west.

    Ella Barnwell

    Emerson Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for backwood


pl n

mainly US and Canadian partially cleared, sparsely populated forests
any remote sparsely populated place
(modifier) of, from, or like the backwoods
(modifier) uncouth; rustic
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 backwood

1709, American English, from back (adj.) + wood (n.) "forested tract." Also backwoods. As an adjective, from 1784.

BACKWOODSMEN ... This word is commonly used as a term of reproach (and that, only in a familiar style,) to designate those people, who, being at a distance from the sea and entirely agricultural, are considered as either hostile or indifferent to the interests of the commercial states. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper