[bak-waw-ter, -wot-er]
water held or forced back, as by a dam, flood, or tide.
a place or state of stagnant backwardness: This area of the country is a backwater that continues to resist progress.
an isolated, peaceful place.
a stroke executed by pushing a paddle forward, causing a canoe to move backward.

1350–1400; Middle English bakwateres; see back2, water Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
backwater (ˈbækˌwɔːtə)
1.  a body of stagnant water connected to a river
2.  water held or driven back, as by a dam, flood, or tide
3.  an isolated, backward, or intellectually stagnant place or condition
4.  (intr) to reverse the direction of a boat, esp to push the oars of a rowing boat

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "water behind a dam," from back + water. Hence flat water without a current near a flowing river, as in a mill race (1820); fig. use of this for any flat, dull place is from 1899.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
With no deepwater port, this was a backwater economy.
If you desire a backwater town with a backwards school you will not get it
But this fleece-loving city that launched the grunge music movement and a
  national espresso craze is no backwater.
Some features can get buried in backwater sections of menu.
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