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See also: ward, Ward, and -wards



From Old English -weard, from Proto-Germanic *wardaz, earlier *warþaz (turned toward, in the direction of, facing) (compare -wards, from -weardes).

Cognate with Dutch -waarts, Low German -warts, German -wärts, Icelandic -verðr, Gothic -𐍅𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌸𐍃 (-wairþs), Latin vertere (to turn) or versus (toward), and Sanskrit वर्तते (vártate, he turns). Also related to worth (to become). Compare verse.




  1. Forming adverbs denoting course or direction to, or motion or tendency toward, as in "backward", "toward", "forward", etc.
  2. Forming adjectives, as in "a backward look", "the northward road", etc; used even by speakers who usually use -wards for adverbs.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The choice between -ward and -wards is individual or dialectal; both are widely used with adverbs, though -ward is heavily favoured for adjectives.
  • Adverbs ending in -wards (Anglo-Saxon -weardes) and some other adverbs, such as besides, betimes, since Old English sithens, etc., originated as genitive forms used adverbially.
  • The adjectives toward (initial stress) and forward have meanings not predictable from the meaning of -ward.
  • Awkward has retained the form but lost much of the sense in its use of this suffix.

Derived terms[edit]