Definition of backwards in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbakwədz/
(also backward)


1(Of a movement) in the direction of one’s back: Penny glanced backwards he took a step backwards
More example sentences
  • I started stepping backwards in the direction of the doors.
  • I snarled and she took a step backwards, glancing at the naked blade in my hands.
  • Devon's eyes widened in surprise at my sudden movements, and stumbled backwards when he caught me.
towards the rear, rearwards, backward, behind one
2(Of an object’s motion) back towards the starting point: the tape rolled backwards
More example sentences
  • His second shot landed on the green, 10 feet short, but checked and rolled backwards off the green.
  • Did you know that if you audio tape an episode, and run the tape backwards… it makes more sense?
  • To correct for this, players can attempt to put English on the ball, making it roll backwards, forwards or to either side once it's on the ground.
3In reverse of the usual direction or order: count backwards from twenty to ten
More example sentences
  • Hi, Emma, now I am going to put this over your nose and I need you to count backwards from twenty.
  • He follows the Prologue with a tale told backwards, in reverse chronological order.
  • The first half of the book portrays this event; so we must turn to the middle and run the leaves backwards to get the order of the procession.
in reverse, from the highest to lowest, in reverse order
3.1Towards the past: the songs look backwards to long-ago battles
More example sentences
  • More importantly, both songs look backwards to long-ago battles.
  • A failure to follow through on their unspoken promise might well pitch Ukraine backwards into the past from which it is emerging.
  • However, my mind tends to frequently wander backwards into the past or else goes racing off into the future.
3.2Towards or into a worse state: a step backwards for the economy
More example sentences
  • Here we have the Government taking a huge step backwards towards compulsory trade unionism.
  • With the advent of the left, state intervention in the economy took a step backwards.
  • It is not just that there will be no progress on reform on which to report next month; it is that the euro zone and its largest economy have gone backwards.



backwards and forwards

In both directions alternately; to and fro: he paced backwards and forwards nervously
More example sentences
  • Players go backwards and forwards, alternating the target box in the same manner as for quoits or bowls.
  • ‘The wings were going backwards and forwards like it was trying to balance itself,’ she said.
  • She paces backwards and forwards, at one end of the platform, muttering quietly to herself, gesticulating with quick fingers.

bend (or fall or lean) over backwards

informal Make every effort to achieve something, especially to be fair or helpful: we have bent over backwards to ensure a fair trial for the defendants
More example sentences
  • And I just want to say that I have bent over backwards to be fair to minority interests.
  • Now they have discovered, after bending over backwards with effort and capital, the market had diminished alarmingly.
  • And I think this judge bent over backwards to ensure a fair trial and a verdict that would not be reversed on appeal.
try one's hardest, try as hard as one can, do one's best, do one's utmost, do all one can, give one's all, make every effort;
informal do one's damnedest, go all out, pull out all the stops, bust a gut, move heaven and earth, give it one's best shot
Australian/New Zealand informal go for the doctor

know something backwards

Be entirely familiar with something: Luke knew the play backwards
More example sentences
  • I wouldn't quibble with that; he knows tactics backwards, he imposes them on his team; he taught them to stop Chelsea and Milan outplaying them with superior talents.
  • And because she knows the script backwards, I'll sometimes ask her what she thinks sounds better.
  • Carrie has completed the course before and knows the horse backwards.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: back|wards

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