Definition of backwards in English:

backwards

(also backward)

adverb

  • 1(of a movement) in the direction of one's back:

    ‘Penny glanced backwards’
    ‘he took a step backwards’
    • ‘As I rolled backwards into the warm waters I was surprised to the point of grunting in contentment.’
    • ‘Irene glanced backwards and saw that there was no man there.’
    • ‘He pushed the chair backwards with his sudden movement, producing a very loud noise.’
    • ‘Devon's eyes widened in surprise at my sudden movements, and stumbled backwards when he caught me.’
    • ‘I nodded and left the room, with a worried glance backwards at the woman who was still sitting on the couch, looking so miserable and helpless.’
    • ‘The sudden movement sent me reeling backwards into a cabinet door, effectively knocking the wind out of me.’
    • ‘I glanced backwards, even though it was impossible for anyone in the back to hear anything of what was being said.’
    • ‘Faith pulled Ben backwards as his movements became jerky and desperate.’
    • ‘Ushered to the sides, fans glance backwards and, catching sight of the Welsh players, clap and cheer.’
    • ‘I snarled and she took a step backwards, glancing at the naked blade in my hands.’
    • ‘Ignatious began to roll his chair backwards, towards the door.’
    • ‘Feeling there was something behind him, he glanced backwards and saw that he was being followed by a gigantic black figure.’
    • ‘Rob ran backwards towards the river, trying to beat it about the head with the remaining 18 inches of stick.’
    • ‘It is quite hard, however, to write about the one without a nervous glance backwards at the other.’
    • ‘Lex shot him a glance and scampered backwards, stumbling over Clark.’
    • ‘He rocked forwards but when he tried to regain his balance he over done the movement and fell backwards.’
    • ‘He was wearing dark clothing and had no cycle lights, and was hit by the police car as he glanced backwards.’
    • ‘I sort of guessed something was wrong when I parked on a steep hill, put the handbrake full on and promptly rolled backwards.’
    • ‘She turned and glanced backwards, finding that the pair had stopped squabbling and were then noticing the company.’
    • ‘I started stepping backwards in the direction of the doors.’
    towards the rear, rearwards, backward, behind one
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  • 2(of an object's motion) back towards the starting point:

    ‘the tape rolled backwards’
    • ‘Did you know that if you audio tape an episode, and run the tape backwards… it makes more sense?’
    • ‘To correct for this, players can attempt to put English on the ball, making it roll backwards, forwards or to either side once it's on the ground.’
    • ‘His second shot landed on the green, 10 feet short, but checked and rolled backwards off the green.’
    • ‘I was beginning to go a little cross-eyed when quite suddenly the ball was rolling backwards.’
    • ‘Suddenly, as if it had a will of its own, the ball rolled backwards, building speed.’
    • ‘As if in slow motion, the ball rolled backwards.’
  • 3In reverse of the usual direction or order:

    ‘count backwards from twenty to ten’
    • ‘Grace sighed, silently counting backwards from ten, trying to suppress her emotions and giving herself a few moments to gather her thoughts.’
    • ‘My anger management counselor told me that in time like these, I need to sit back, and calmly count backwards from ten.’
    • ‘Please note that in order to win, you MUST turn your baseball cap backwards determinedly while staring your opponent down.’
    • ‘How long do you need to memorize 30 digits and then count them backwards?’
    • ‘She flung open her backpack which she put on backwards in order to look through it.’
    • ‘The first half of the book portrays this event; so we must turn to the middle and run the leaves backwards to get the order of the procession.’
    • ‘He was going to fly the airplane backwards using reverse engine thrust!’
    • ‘A three-digit number was presented and participants were instructed to count backwards by threes for 10 seconds.’
    • ‘The women had to do such things as recall paragraphs, name as many animals as they could in 1 minute, and count backwards.’
    • ‘Count the hours with the water-measure until dawn, then count backwards to the time of the birth.’
    • ‘He follows the Prologue with a tale told backwards, in reverse chronological order.’
    • ‘The driver reversed the van backwards, but there were cars behind us and we couldn't go back further.’
    • ‘It actually sounded like it was spoken backwards, so we played it in reverse.’
    • ‘So I had to resort to counting the alphabet backwards.’
    • ‘She then wrote down the alphabet backwards, each corresponding to the first twenty six numbers.’
    • ‘If May 15th is your target date you should count backwards on the calendar 100 days.’
    • ‘She threw the van into reverse and sped backwards, gaining enough distance that she could turn the big van around and flee from the scene of battle.’
    • ‘Hi, Emma, now I am going to put this over your nose and I need you to count backwards from twenty.’
    • ‘He started to count backwards from today's date in his head but, with a rapid twitch of his head, forced himself to stop.’
    • ‘Count backwards from the date you plan to transplant to calculate seed starting date.’
    in reverse, from the highest to lowest, in reverse order
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    1. 3.1 Towards the past:
      ‘the songs look backwards to long-ago battles’
      • ‘More importantly, both songs look backwards to long-ago battles.’
      • ‘Moving backwards to the past, she was a graduate at 21 and a signed-up R&B star at 22.’
      • ‘The story takes an unexpected turn when it suddenly speeds backwards in time, reversing all the images just seen and landing back at the beginning.’
      • ‘They looked backwards to a classical past rather than biblical precedent to provide new political ideologies with intellectual credibility and authority.’
      • ‘The quest for an origin leads us forever backwards into the past.’
      • ‘So if we think on that time scale, if we think as far ahead as geologists are accustomed to think backwards into the past, then it's not crazy.’
      • ‘The real progression of the movie is a progression backwards, further and further into the past.’
      • ‘Life is not supposed to go backwards and suck you back into the past because there is where you will find how they became who they were and you will fall more in love.’
      • ‘Looking at the world of children is not looking backwards at our own pasts - it's looking ahead.’
      • ‘On the one hand, we are driven outwards and onwards into the future; on the other, we are pulled inwards and backwards to the past.’
      • ‘The other two look backwards over porn's not so illustrious past.’
      • ‘How easy of a relationship will that be, especially since Venus is now turning backwards, looking at her past mistakes, misadventures and memories?’
      • ‘It enables us to move backwards, to view the past through a certain shade of tinted glasses.’
      • ‘However, my mind tends to frequently wander backwards into the past or else goes racing off into the future.’
      • ‘This means that individuals often look backwards to their origins in order to find themselves, rather than to their own lives and activities.’
      • ‘A failure to follow through on their unspoken promise might well pitch Ukraine backwards into the past from which it is emerging.’
      • ‘It's not that you're going backwards in time, it's that you visit the past.’
      • ‘Speech after speech, motion after motion looks backwards to the 50s when patients and politicians knew their place; and doctors were men.’
      • ‘We can travel north or south, east and west, but we can only go forwards in time to the future, not backwards in time to the past.’
    2. 3.2 Towards or into a worse state:
      ‘a step backwards for the economy’
      • ‘Rather than expanding services to cater for its population explosion, the town has taken a major step backwards over the past thirty years.’
      • ‘Productivity's been going backwards in Australia for the past year.’
      • ‘So, if to make the world a better place for all, the entire world must take a massive leap backwards, is that not potentially far worse?’
      • ‘Productivity rates have gone backwards over the past year.’
      • ‘Other indicators show the region slipping backwards both economically and socially.’
      • ‘Huge areas of the world have gone backwards in social and economic terms in the last few decades.’
      • ‘With the advent of the left, state intervention in the economy took a step backwards.’
      • ‘It is not just that there will be no progress on reform on which to report next month; it is that the euro zone and its largest economy have gone backwards.’
      • ‘Here we have the Government taking a huge step backwards towards compulsory trade unionism.’
      • ‘The truth is that free trade is taking our economy and society backwards.’
      • ‘Now looking at the performance of the Indian side over the past two games, we seem to have gone backwards instead of rectifying the mistakes of the World Cup.’
      • ‘Ultimately they tune out, and the social justice movement takes another step backwards.’
      • ‘In summary, we believe that this bill takes a few steps forward in the right direction, but it also takes a few steps backwards.’
      • ‘It would be a step backwards, and he rarely takes a step backwards without having one or two forward movements up his sleeve.’
      • ‘The ACCI stated that Labor's policy could send the Australian economy backwards and compromise economic development.’
      • ‘The dangers of moving backwards are clear for an administration fixated with past mistakes.’
      • ‘We're seeing a majority of Torontonians slide backwards economically and into despair.’
      • ‘That is at the lineout, which has been a vital phase of play in the past two matches and remains the only area where Scotland have arguably gone backwards in the past year.’
      • ‘If we have to take a step backwards in order to take two steps forward, then so be it.’
      deteriorate, decline, degenerate, worsen, get worse
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Phrases

  • backwards and forwards

    • In both directions alternately; to and fro:

      ‘he paced backwards and forwards nervously’
      • ‘There is little scope for skipping backwards and forwards, or referencing particular sections of the work when using an audiobook.’
      • ‘Get rid of the dull ninety minutes of running backwards and forwards on the field, and just go straight to the penalty shoot-out.’
      • ‘‘The wings were going backwards and forwards like it was trying to balance itself,’ she said.’
      • ‘I walked backwards and forwards in front of them repeatedly as though someone were pressing the rewind button on a video machine, but to no avail.’
      • ‘She paces backwards and forwards, at one end of the platform, muttering quietly to herself, gesticulating with quick fingers.’
      • ‘She hears children going backwards and forwards past her house all the time, sometimes screaming and shouting as children do.’
      • ‘Sonny is the one that keeps me company by prowling backwards and forwards across my desk - constantly, over and over again.’
      • ‘Players go backwards and forwards, alternating the target box in the same manner as for quoits or bowls.’
      • ‘They were flying backwards and forwards across the same spot; I was having to dodge the bees rather than the bees detouring round me.’
      • ‘We spent the night on a big wooden yacht cruising backwards and forwards along the river, eating good food and cooing over the illuminated sights.’
  • bend (or fall or lean) over backwards

    • informal Make every effort to achieve something, especially to be fair or helpful:

      ‘we have bent over backwards to ensure a fair trial for the defendants’
      • ‘And I just want to say that I have bent over backwards to be fair to minority interests.’
      • ‘To be fair, my dad always bent over backwards for us to fit in, but not lose a sense of who we are.’
      • ‘It's little wonder governments are bending over backwards in a desperate attempt to create a ‘business-friendly environment’.’
      • ‘The military are falling over backwards to help.’
      • ‘But I draw the line at being so accommodating and respectful of the views of others that we lean over backwards so far that we fall over.’
      • ‘That is what the government is demanding firefighters accept after their union has bent over backwards to seek compromise over their pay claim.’
      • ‘The council should be falling over backwards to work with the Civil Service Sports Council to bring this £7 million development to York.’
      • ‘And I think this judge bent over backwards to ensure a fair trial and a verdict that would not be reversed on appeal.’
      • ‘Now they have discovered, after bending over backwards with effort and capital, the market had diminished alarmingly.’
      • ‘You know we bend over backwards in work to be helpful and polite to people.’
      try one's hardest, try as hard as one can, do one's best, do one's utmost, do all one can, give one's all, make every effort
      strive, struggle, apply oneself, exert oneself, work hard, endeavour, try
      do one's damnedest, go all out, pull out all the stops, bust a gut, move heaven and earth, give it one's best shot
      go for the doctor
      try, attempt, venture, undertake, aspire, aim, seek, set out
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  • know something backwards

    • Be entirely familiar with something:

      ‘Luke knew the play backwards’
      • ‘And for those who don't already know it backwards, 3,000 balloons will be at the ready, printed with lyrics.’
      • ‘We gave them live gigs, demos, everything we had, and they came back knowing his stuff backwards.’
      • ‘There are 98 pages in this report and I know it backwards.’
      • ‘They don't feel threatened, and of course he knows the stuff backwards so it's a great asset.’
      • ‘I wouldn't quibble with that; he knows tactics backwards, he imposes them on his team; he taught them to stop Chelsea and Milan outplaying them with superior talents.’
      • ‘He had surveyed the grounds and knew the aerials backwards.’
      • ‘There aren't many people who know their way backwards through a computer manual.’
      • ‘They are increasingly fashionable, articulate, urban and upper class, even as they know their constituencies backwards.’
      • ‘And because she knows the script backwards, I'll sometimes ask her what she thinks sounds better.’
      • ‘Carrie has completed the course before and knows the horse backwards.’
      acquire a knowledge of, gain an understanding of, acquire skill in, become competent in, become proficient in, grasp, master, take in, absorb, assimilate, pick up, digest, familiarize oneself with
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Pronunciation:

backwards

/ˈbakwədz/