Meaning of BACKWARD in English


I. ˈbakwə(r)d adverb

or back·wards -dz

Etymology: Middle English bakward, bakwardes, from bak back + -ward, -wardes


a. : toward the back or rear

throw the arms out and backward

b. : with the back in advance or foremost

pull a chair backward away from a table

drive backward up a driveway


a. : in the direction from which one came : in a reverse or contrary direction or way

read backward

do things backward

turn a handle backward

the tide ebbs backward toward the sea — John DeMeyer

b. : toward the past

lovers of romance who look fondly backward

c. : in a regressive direction

under his administration the community was not only at a standstill but going backward

: toward an earlier and worse state

moving backward culturally and morally

II. adjective

Etymology: Middle English bakward, from bakward, adverb


a. : directed or turned backward

a backward glance

a backward movement of the train

a backward jerk of the arm — Wirt Williams

a backward slant to his handwriting

b. : done or executed backward

a backward twist of a handle

2. archaic : situated or placed toward or in the back or rear

3. : reluctant , diffident , shy

a man hardly backward in asserting himself

a backward suitor

I have been backward to begin my canvass — Edmund Burke


a. : slow to learn or dull of comprehension : mentally retarded

a backward child

b. : holding to outworn or traditional ideas, views, or principles : reactionary , unprogressive

a backward person, imbued with strong and irrational prejudices

c. : in a relatively underdeveloped state especially economically and socially

technological assistance to the backward areas of the world

a backward agrarian country

desires to elevate the more backward portions of the human family — Philip Mason

5. : unsupported by a fellow pawn in chess and not readily movable to a position to be so supported

• back·ward·ly adverb

III. noun

( -s )

: the part behind or past

the dark backward … of time — Shakespeare

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.