Backward means "toward the rear" or "behind." It’s the opposite of forward. If you stop peddling your bike on a hill, you’ll start rolling backward. If you count backward from 10 to 1, you probably just hypnotized someone.

When you go backward, you move in reverse. You might give a backward glance at a person as you walk away. Backward also means "slow," or "behind the times," as in a backward government that doesn't allow girls to go to school. If you wear your clothes backward, then you’re dressing like Kris Kross, the hip-hop duo from the 90s. The Old English roots are on bæc, "back," and -weard, "toward." Backwards (with an “s”) is primarily British usage.

Definitions of backward
  1. adverb
    at or to or toward the back or rear
    “tripped when he stepped backward
    synonyms: back, backwards, rearward, rearwards
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    forrad, forrard, forward, forwards, frontward, frontwards
    at or to or toward the front
  2. adverb
    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
    synonyms: backwards
  3. adverb
    in or to or toward a past time
    synonyms: back
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    ahead, forward
    toward the future; forward in time
  4. adjective
    directed or facing toward the back or rear
    “a backward view”
    backswept, sweptback
    used of hair
    cacuminal, retroflex
    pronounced with the tip of the tongue turned back toward the hard palate
    converse, reversed, transposed
    turned about in order or relation
    inverse, reverse
    reversed (turned backward) in order or nature or effect
    rearward, reverse
    directed or moving toward the rear
    (of a hairline e.g.) moving slowly back
    reflexive, self-referent
    referring back to itself
    looking backward
    drawn back and in
    retral, retrograde
    moving or directed or tending in a backward direction or contrary to a previous direction
    retroflex, retroflexed
    bent or curved backward
    returning, reversive
    tending to be turned back
    opposing progress; returning to a former less advanced state
    concerned with or related to the past
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    at or near or directed toward the front
    full-face, gardant, guardant
    looking forward
    headfirst, headlong
    with the head foremost
    situated at or toward the bow of a vessel
    favoring or promoting progress
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  5. adjective
    having made less than normal progress
    “an economically backward country”
    adynamic, undynamic
    characterized by an absence of force or forcefulness
  6. adjective
    delayed or behind in intellectual development
    synonyms: feebleminded, half-witted, slow-witted
    relatively slow in mental or emotional or physical development
  7. adjective
    (used of temperament or behavior) marked by a retiring nature
    bashful, blate
    disposed to avoid notice
    showing fear and lack of confidence
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    used of temperament or behavior; lacking restraint or modesty
    brash, cheeky, nervy
    offensively bold
    bumptious, self-assertive
    offensively self-assertive
    taking undue liberties
    fresh, impertinent, impudent, overbold, sassy, saucy, smart, wise
    improperly forward or bold
    assuming, assumptive, presumptuous
    excessively forward
    fearless and daring
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