Definition of backward in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbakwəd/


1Directed behind or to the rear: she left the room without a backward glance
More example sentences
  • The real giveaway is the female's hidden pouch, albeit backward opening, for rearing its young.
  • Alvin slapped the door shut behind him with a backward scrape of his heel, to muffle the shouting from the neighbors, and sidled along the wall away from her.
  • The fur naps to the rear, thus sliding forward and resisting backward movement.
to/towards the rear, rearward, to/towards the back;
behind one
1.1Reverting to an inferior state; retrograde: the decision was a backward step
More example sentences
  • It's not my kind of place at all - plus it would feel somewhat like a backward step, a retrograde manoeuvre, a return to a place of history.
  • Given this trend, it is a backward step to talk about ‘producing’ children who could never have an experience of living with both their birth parents.
  • A lot of good work has been done but this is a backward step.
retrograde, retrogressive, regressive, unprogressive, for the worse, in the wrong direction, downhill, negative
2Having made less progress than is normal or expected: a backward agricultural country
More example sentences
  • The Scandinavian monarchies were transformed from poor and rather backward societies into prosperous agricultural democracies.
  • A progressive president and a backward parliament rarely go well together.
  • The first one suggests that the backward economies can make rapid progress by imitating the leaders.
underdeveloped, undeveloped, unsophisticated;
primitive, benighted
2.1 dated or offensive (Of a person) having learning difficulties: a lively child but a bit backward
3 [with negative] (backward in) Lacking the confidence to do (something): he was not backward in displaying his talents
More example sentences
  • Never being backward in coming forward, we invited along a few friends to find out for ourselves what this was all about with a carefully planned taste test, at least to begin with.
  • He also isn't backward in backing his young charge for stardom - but there will be no sudden move into the pro ranks if gold is banked this week.
  • But since John split with his long-term girlfriend he's not exactly being backward in coming forward.
4 Cricket (Of a fielding position) behind an imaginary line passing through the stumps at the batsman’s end at right angles to the wicket: backward square leg
More example sentences
  • This time the top-edge required a brilliant athletic catch from Akmal, as he sprinted from behind the stumps to a backward square-leg position.
  • Time after time he rocked on to the back foot to send the ball whistling through mid wicket and backward point.


another word for backwards.


In most adverbial uses backward and backwards are interchangeable: the car rolled slowly backward and the car rolled slowly backwards are both equally acceptable. In North American English backward tends to be preferred to backwards, while in British English it is the other way round. As an adjective, on the other hand, the standard form is backward rather than backwards: uses such as a backwards glance (as opposed to a backward glance) are unusual.



Pronunciation: /ˈbakwədli/
Example sentences
  • These horns are erect and consist of two branches or prongs, a short branch extending forward and located around halfway up the horn, and a longer, backwardly directed tip.
  • That's right, this baby is backwardly compatible!
  • However, they're early Alphas, which were the most backwardly compatible.


Middle English: from earlier abackward, from aback.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: back|ward

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