- 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.
- 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
verb back water
- (intr) to reverse the direction of a boat, esp to push the oars of a rowing boat
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.