What does backwards mean?

Definitions for backwards

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word backwards.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. back, backward, backwards, rearward, rearwardsadverb

    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. backward, backwardsadverb

    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. backwardsadverb

    Toward the back.

  2. backwardsadverb

    In the opposite direction of usual.

    The clock did not work because the battery was inserted backwards.

  3. backwardsadverb

    In a manner such that the back precedes the front.

    The tour guide walked backwards while droning on to the bored seniors.

  4. backwardsadjective

    Oriented toward the back.

    The battleship had three backwards guns at the stern, in addition to the primary complement.

  5. backwardsadjective


    The backwards lettering on emergency vehicles makes it possible to read in the rear-view mirror.

  6. backwardsadjective

    Behind current trends or technology.

    Modern medicine regards the use of leeches as a backwards practice.

  7. backwardsadjective

    Clumsy, inept, or inefficient.

    He was a very backwards scholar, but he was a marvel on the football field.

  8. Etymology: . See -s#Etymology 3

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Backward, Backwardsadverb

    Etymology: from back and weard, Sax. that is, towards the back.

    They went backward, and their faces were backward. Gen. ix.

    In leaping with weights, the arms are first cast backwards, and then forwards, with so much the greater force; for the hands go backward before they take their rise. Francis Bacon, Nat. H.

    Then darting from her malignant eyes,
    She cast him backward as he strove to rise. John Dryden, Æneid.

    We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
    And beat them backward home. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    The monstrous sight
    Struck them with horrour backward; but far worse
    Urg’d them behind. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. vi.

    Are not the rays of light, in passing by the edges and sides of bodies, bent several times backwards and forwards with a motion like that of an eel? Isaac Newton, Opticks.

    To prove the possibility of a thing, there is no argument to that which looks backwards; for what has been done or suffered, may certainly be done or suffered again. South.

    No, doubtless; for the mind can backward cast
    Upon herself, her understanding light. John Davies.

    The work went backward; and the more he strove
    T’ advance the suit, the farther from her love. Dryden.

    They have spread one of the worst languages in the world, if we look upon it some reigns backwards. John Locke.

    I never yet saw man,
    But she would spell him backward; if fair-fac’d,
    She’d swear the gentleman should be her sister;
    If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick,
    Made a foul blot; if tall, a launce ill-headed. William Shakespeare, Much ado about Nothing.


  1. Backwards

    Backward or Backwards is a relative direction.


  1. backwards

    Backwards refers to the direction or orientation towards the rear or the opposite direction from which one is facing or moving. It can also imply reverting to an earlier or less advanced state or form, or contrary to the usual way or expectations.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Backwardsadverb

    with the back in advance or foremost; as, to ride backward

  2. Backwardsadverb

    toward the back; toward the rear; as, to throw the arms backward

  3. Backwardsadverb

    on the back, or with the back downward

  4. Backwardsadverb

    toward, or in, past time or events; ago

  5. Backwardsadverb

    by way of reflection; reflexively

  6. Backwardsadverb

    from a better to a worse state, as from honor to shame, from religion to sin

  7. Backwardsadverb

    in a contrary or reverse manner, way, or direction; contrarily; as, to read backwards


  1. Backwards

    Backwards is the fourth Red Dwarf novel. It is set on the fictional backwards universe version of Earth. The novel was written by Rob Grant on his own. It follows on directly from the second Grant Naylor novel, Better Than Life, ignoring Last Human. As well as continuing the general conceit from the episode Backwards, it contains minor elements from the episode Dimension Jump, and all of the plot from Gunmen of the Apocalypse. An audiobook of Backwards was also produced, read by the author.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. backwards

    A technical word made use of in the British service to express the retrograde movement of troops from line into column, and vice versa. Also a word of command in the U. S. service, to cause a man, or body of men, to march to the rear without changing front.

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'backwards' in Written Corpus Frequency: #2814

  2. Adverbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'backwards' in Adverbs Frequency: #306

How to pronounce backwards?

How to say backwards in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of backwards in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of backwards in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of backwards in a Sentence

  1. Bob Katter:

    Mr Katter hit out at both the Liberal National and Labor parties. You destroyed the timber industry, the tobacco industry, the fishing industry, the dairy industry and half the sugar mills,he said. We can't farm here because of the Great Barrier Reef. Out west we can't shoot pigs because guns are bad. You can't remove trees, can't use the water out west, can't use the land or improve it. We're not standing still. We're not going forward, so we must be going backwards.

  2. Megan Huchko:

    We see this increasing understanding that people need access to reproductive health services and this feels like a definite step backwards when talking about medicines and vaccines, but explicitly excluding reproductive health.

  3. Soren Kierkegaard:

    Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

  4. David Velazco:

    It’s backwards — when it’s about punishing campesinos they move fast.

  5. Adetola Onamade:

    I wonder if they've actually understood what the court has ruled there, we need to think the other way around. There is a clear boundary -- the amount of emissions, the carbon budget that we have, is finite. Adetola Onamade can not extend it any longer and we need to think from that budget backwards, what does it mean for the amount of emissions we can produce today and tomorrow.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for backwards

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • pozpátkuCzech
  • rückwärtsGerman
  • προς τα πίσω, επαναφορά επιστροφήGreek
  • malantaŭenEsperanto
  • invertido, a contrapelo, hacia atrásSpanish
  • tagasisuunas, saamatu, vanamoodne, peegelpilt, tahapoole, tagurpidiEstonian
  • väärinpäin, kelvoton, taaksepäin, takaperin, vanhanaikainenFinnish
  • visszafeléHungarian
  • ke belakangIndonesian
  • indietroItalian
  • 뒤로Korean
  • به‌ره‌ودوا, پاشه‌وپاش, دواکه‌وتوKurdish
  • whakatuaraMāori
  • achterwaartsDutch
  • смотрящий, назад, направленныйRussian
  • bakåtriktad, efter, omvänd, baklänges, efterbliven, bakvändSwedish
  • назадUkrainian

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"backwards." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/backwards>.

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    a state of dishonor
    A flair
    B sweep
    C ignominy
    D contempt

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