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 downwards


Examples from the Web for downwards

Contemporary Examples of downwards

  • On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Bottled Waterboarding

    Robert Windrem

    June 1, 2009

Historical Examples of downwards

British Dictionary definitions for downwards




from a higher to a lower place, level, etc
from an earlier time or source to a laterfrom the Tudors downwards



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 downwards



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