Oriented toward the back.
- The battleship had three backwards guns at the stern, in addition to the primary complement .
(derogatory) Behind current trends or technology.
- The backwards lettering on emergency vehicles makes it possible to read in the rear-view mirror.
Clumsy, inept, or inefficient.
- Modern medicine regards the use of leeches as a backwards practice.
- He was a very backwards scholar, but he was a marvel on the football field.
* In senses 3 and 4, and often in American English, backward is preferred.
* (oriented toward the back)
* (reversed) mirror image, switched, back to front
* (behind current trends or technology) crude, dated, obsolete, primitive
* awkward, fumbling, incompetent, poor
Toward the back.
- The cabinet toppled over backwards .
In the opposite direction to usual.
- Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards . —Søren Kierkegaard
In a manner such that the back precedes the front.
- The clock did not work because the battery was inserted backwards .
- The tour guide walked backwards while droning on to the bored seniors.
* In written American English, backward is more common.
* Strictly speaking, backwards'' is an adverb and ''backward is an adjective in British English; in American English, the rule may be reversed. This follows the same usage for similar words ending in -ward/-wards and -way/-ways. See also -wise.
*: It was a backward move'' vs ''He moved backwards
* Also, even though an adverb may be used in adjectival combinations (eg a quickly moving car ), only the -ward forms are commonly used in adjectival combinations, e.g.:
*: A backward-facing statue. / A backward facing statue.
* (toward the back) hindwards, rearward, retrograde
* (in the opposite direction of usual) contrariwise, reversedly
* (so that the back precedes the front) back to front, in reverse
* backwards and forwards