Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


1. Directed or facing toward the back or rear.
2. Done or arranged in a manner or order that is opposite to previous occurrence or normal use.
3. Unwilling to act; reluctant; shy.
4. Behind others in progress or development: The technology was backward, but the system worked.
adv. or back·wards (-wərdz)
1. To or toward the back or rear.
2. With the back leading.
3. In a reverse manner or order.
4. To, toward, or into the past.
5. Toward a worse or less advanced condition.

back′ward·ly adv.
back′ward·ness n.
Usage Note: Most American English dictionaries list -wards as a spelling variant of the directional suffix -ward. Accordingly, two variants are provided for most of the adverbs that end with this suffix: backward/backwards, toward/towards, upward/upwards, and so on. Although both variants are considered acceptable, the -ward suffix is more common in American English, whereas the -wards suffix is more common in British English. This distinction is more prominent in edited prose than in casual writing or speech, possibly because many American copyeditors follow style manuals that recommend or prescribe the -ward variant. Despite this dialectal differentiation, there remains significant variation in usage among individuals and even among the different -ward words themselves. This variation is evident in the results from our 2012 usage survey: backwards and towards were deemed acceptable by 72 percent and 69 percent of Panelists, respectively, but only 38 percent found forwards to be acceptable. Note that for those -ward words that also function as adjectives, the form without the s is standard: a backward look; a westward journey.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in classic literature ?
But as the last whelmings intermixingly poured themselves over the sunken head of the Indian at the mainmast, leaving a few inches of the erect spar yet visible, together with long streaming yards of the flag, which calmly undulated, with ironical coincidings, over the destroying billows they almost touched; --at that instant, a red arm and a hammer hovered backwardly uplifted in the open air, in the act of nailing the flag faster and yet faster to the subsiding spar.
The governor reaffirmed his administration's plan to backwardly integrate into the Central Bank of Nigeria framework, which he said, was meant to ban the provision of foreign exchange for some food items.
It is unfortunate that the power of writing can work both ways -progressively and backwardly. Remembering Prof.
The paracone is sloped posteriorly and directed backwardly to form a parastyle.
The possible mechanism for carotid sparing would be the backwardly thrown head at the time of injury which is likely to draw the carotid sheath backwards.
These scales possess a polyodontode crown backwardly curved and include triangular central long and narrow lateral odontodes (Fig.
In this procedure, the error will be propagated backwardly from hidden layer to input layer and proportioned to the all units of each layer, in order to gather the entire error signal which will be the gauge for units adjusting.
Although our method can explore different branches of the program backwardly, the depth of the backward searching is limited.
Students read information and experience each of the plants on the trail as we backwardly map their learning experiences to complete the summative assessment task:
Then the statistic index of the corresponding rank series for retrograde rows, UB (as it is computed backwardly for the reverser sample, [x.sub.n], [x.sub.n-1], [x.sub.n-2], ..., [x.sub.1]), are similarly obtained through the method mentioned above.
The anterolabial side of the tooth is simple, convex and oriented backwardly.
'We are backwardly integrated and hence can give better assurance of quality.