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See also: back-water and back water


Alternative forms[edit]


back +‎ water


  • (file)


backwater (plural backwaters)

  1. The water held back by a dam or other obstruction
  2. (idiomatic) A remote place; somewhere that remains unaffected by new events, progresses, ideas, etc.
    • 1978, National Opera Association – The Opera Journal page 29
      It's a volume for those who delight in exploring the backwaters of nineteenth-century opera.
    • 1979, Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
  3. A rowing stroke in which the oar is pushed forward to stop the boat; see back water
  4. (paper industry) Water used in the papermaking process. Recycled to reduce usage of fresh water, and usually containing residual amounts of chemicals and fibres.[1]
    Synonym: overflow
    • 1908, An Old Machineman, “Re Back-water Query.”, in The World's Paper Trade Review[2], page 14:
      The back-water (overflow) can be used for "thinning down" the chests when emptying. If "Wastive" does this, his mind will be at ease regarding waste of pulp, and his machine-men will be happy and do their work much better than by trying to use all the back-water on the paper machine.




backwater (third-person singular simple present backwaters, present participle backwatering, simple past and past participle backwatered)

  1. To row or paddle a backwater stroke.
  2. (idiomatic) To vacillate on a long-held position.



  1. ^
    (Can we date this quote?), Paper Industry Technical Association, “Backwater”, in Glossary of Papermaking Terms[1]:
    Water used in the papermaking process, recycled to reduce the wastage of fresh water, and normally contains residual amounts of fibres and chemicals.