• synonyms


  1. proceeding or directed toward the outside or exterior, or away from a central point: the outward flow of gold; the outward part of a voyage.
  2. pertaining to or being what is seen or apparent, as distinguished from the underlying nature, facts, etc.; pertaining to surface qualities only; superficial: outward appearances.
  3. belonging or pertaining to external actions or appearances, as opposed to inner feelings, mental states, etc.: an outward show of grief.
  4. that lies toward the outside; that is on the outer side; exterior: an outward court.
  5. of or relating to the outside, outer surface, or exterior: to make repairs on the outward walls of a house.
  6. pertaining to the outside of the body; external.
  7. pertaining to the body, as opposed to the mind or spirit.
  8. belonging or pertaining to what is external to oneself: outward influences.
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  1. that which is external; the external or material world.
  2. outward appearance.
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adverb Also out·wards.
  1. toward the outside; out.
  2. visibly expressing one's inner feelings, mental state, etc.
  3. away from port: a ship bound outward.
  4. Obsolete. on the outside; externally.
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Origin of outward

before 900; Middle English; Old English ūtweard. See out, -ward
Related formsout·ward·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for outwards

Historical Examples

  • The waving Step, is when the Foot, in moving, turns both inwards and outwards.


    John Weaver

  • They are arranged in order, and they bend upwards and now outwards.


    Edmund Gosse

  • These elongated outer feathers are turned upwards and outwards at the tip.

    Indian Birds

    Douglas Dewar

  • They took hold of my arms, and proceeded to direct me outwards.

  • The fee for registering a packet of value was, outwards 21s., and inwards 5s.

British Dictionary definitions for outwards



  1. towards the outside; out
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  1. of or relating to what is apparent or superficial
  2. of or relating to the outside of the body
  3. belonging or relating to the external, as opposed to the mental, spiritual, or inherent
  4. of, relating to, or directed towards the outside or exterior
  5. (of a ship, part of a voyage, etc) leaving for a particular destination
  6. the outward man
    1. the body as opposed to the soul
    2. facetiousclothing
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  1. (of a ship) away from port
  2. a variant of outwards
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  1. the outward part; exterior
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Derived Formsoutwardness, 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 outwards



Old English utweard "toward the outside, external" (of an enclosure, surface, etc.), earlier utanweard, from ute, utan "outside" (from ut; see out) + -weard (see -ward). Of persons, in reference to the external appearance (usually opposed to inner feelings), it is attested from c.1500. Also as an adverb in Old English (utaword). Outward-bound "directed on a course out from home port" is first recorded c.1600; with capital initials, it refers to a sea school founded in 1941. Related: Outwardly; outwardness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper