Also down·wards. from a higher to a lower place or condition.
down from a source or beginning: As the river flows downward, it widens.
from a past time, predecessor, or ancestor: The estate was handed downward from generation to generation.


moving or tending to a lower place or condition.
descending from a source or beginning.

Origin of downward

1150–1200; Middle English dounward, aphetic variant of adounward, Old English adūnweard. See down1, -ward
Related formsdown·ward·ly, adverbdown·ward·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for downward

downwards, down

Examples from the Web for downward

Contemporary Examples of downward

Historical Examples of downward

  • I know it all by heart—all the things to say to a man on the downward path.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • A moment later they were on the downward slope, and she had vanished from their view.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The harder you blow the greater will be the downward movement.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • The hands are thrust upward, outward, and downward with force.

  • He indicated the third person by a downward thrust of the thumb to the box on which they sat.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for downward



descending from a higher to a lower level, condition, position, etc
descending from a beginning


a variant of downwards
Derived Formsdownwardly, adverbdownwardness, 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 downward

c.1200, from down (adv.) + -ward. Old English had aduneweard in this sense. Downwards, with adverbial genitive, had a parallel in Old English ofduneweardes.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper