Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login




(1)   At or to or toward the back or rear
"He moved back"
"Tripped when he stepped backward"
"She looked rearward out the window of the car"
(2)   In a manner or order or direction the reverse of normal
"It's easy to get the `i' and the `e' backward in words like `seize' and `siege'"
"The child put her jersey on backward"


  1. Oriented toward the back.
    The battleship had three backwards guns at the stern, in addition to the primary complement.
  2. Reversed.
    The backwards lettering on emergency vehicles makes it possible to read in the rear-view mirror.
  3. Behind current trends or technology.
    Modern medicine regards the use of leeches as a backwards practice.
  4. Clumsy, inept, or inefficient.
    He was a very backwards scholar, but he was a marvel on the football field.

Usage notes

  • In senses 3 and 4, and generally in American English, backward is preferred.


mirror image, switched, back-to-front crude, dated, obsolete, primitive awkward, fumbling, incompetent, poor


  1. Toward the back.
    The cabinet toppled over backwards.
    Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards.—Søren Kierkegaard
  2. In the opposite direction of usual.
    The clock did not work because the battery was inserted backwards.
  3. In a manner such that the back precedes the front.
    The tour guide walked backwards while droning on to the bored seniors.


hindwards, rearward, retrograde contrariwise, reversedly back to front, in reverse