Definition of backward in English:


See synonyms for backward

Translate backward into Spanish


  • 1Directed behind or to the rear.

    ‘she left the room without a backward glance’
    • ‘a gradual backward movement’
    1. 1.1Looking toward the past, rather than being progressive; retrograde.
      • ‘he said the decision was a backward step’
  • 2Having made less than normal progress.

    • ‘economically backward countries’
    1. 2.1 dated, offensive (of a person) having an intellectual disability.



/ˈbakwərd/ /ˈbækwərd/


(also backwards)
  • 1(of a movement) away from one's front; in the direction of one's back.

    ‘he took a step backward’
    • ‘Harry suddenly fell backward into a somersault’
    1. 1.1In reverse of the usual direction or order.
      ‘counting backward’
      • ‘baseball caps turned backward’
  • 2Toward or into the past.

    • ‘a loving look backward at his early life’
    1. 2.1Toward or into a worse state.
      • ‘a giant step backward for child-centered education’



/ˈbakwərd/ /ˈbækwərd/


In US English, the adverb form is sometimes spelled backwards (the ladder fell backwards), but the adjective is almost always backward (a backward glance). Directional words using the suffix -ward tend to have no s ending in US English, although backwards is more common than afterwards, towards, or forwards. The s ending often (but not always) appears in the phrases backwards and forwards and bending over backwards. In British English, the spelling backwards is more common than backward


    backward and forward
    • In both directions alternately; to and fro.

      • ‘I paced backward and forward’
    bend over backward
    • Make every effort to achieve something, especially to be fair or helpful.

      • ‘he bent over backward to be fair to the defendants’
    know something backward
    • Be entirely familiar with something.

      • ‘you put a song on repeat until you know it backward’


Middle English from earlier abackward, from aback.