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[bak-waw-ter, -wot-er] /ˈbækˌwɔ tər, -ˌwɒt ər/
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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Examples from the web for backwater
  • With no deepwater port, this was a backwater economy.
  • If you desire a backwater town with a backwards school you will not get it there.
  • 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.
  • They find the buck in a backwater slough thrashing around in six feet of water, having broken through the ice.
  • He watched as medical genetics grew from a research backwater into a hot spot of medical inquiry.
  • Moan about how they can't get any pig's intestines, jellyfish or sea slugs to eat in this primitive backwater.
  • And that darker explanation may be more relevant now as more and more attention is being paid to the backwater town.
  • They didn't need to dilute their material for white listeners: the mainstream diverted itself to reach their fertile backwater.
  • Western governments are, however, worried that trouble may be brewing in this backwater.
British Dictionary definitions for backwater


a body of stagnant water connected to a river
water held or driven back, as by a dam, flood, or tide
an isolated, backward, or intellectually stagnant place or condition
(intransitive) to reverse the direction of a boat, esp to push the oars of a rowing boat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for backwater

late 14c., "water behind a dam," from back (adj.) + water (n.). Hence flat water without a current near a flowing river, as in a mill race (1820); figurative use of this for any flat, dull place is from 1899.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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