- The definition of backwater is a body of water that is held back by an obstruction such as a dam or tide.
A lagoon that was formed when a sand bar interrupted the return flow to the ocean is an example of backwater.
Backwater in a tropical forest.Licensed from iStockPhoto
- water moved backward or held back by a dam, tide, etc.
- stagnant water in a small stream or inlet
- a place or condition regarded as stagnant, backward, etc.: a cultural backwater
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- a. Water held or pushed back by or as if by a dam or current.b. A body of water thus formed.
- A place or situation regarded as isolated, stagnant, or backward: “The running of family fortunes has always been a backwater—albeit a lucrative one—of the investment management business” (Business Week).
- A rowing or paddling stroke in which the oar or paddle is pushed forward, used to check a boat's forward motion or move it backward.