back·​wa·​ter | \ ˈbak-ˌwȯ-tər How to pronounce backwater (audio) , -ˌwä-\

Definition of backwater

1a : water backed up in its course by an obstruction, an opposing current, or the tide
b : a body of water (such as an inlet or tributary) that is out of the main current of a larger body
2a : an isolated or backward place or condition
b : an unpopular or unimportant field (as of study or business)

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Examples of backwater in a Sentence

The once sleepy backwater is now a thriving city. a distant backwater that didn't even have electricity at that time

Recent Examples on the Web

And as this happened, fly over America felt demeaned by the dominant culture, which came to see them as backwater, intolerant, and yes, even racist. Fox News, "Kellyanne Conway: Not sure media is relevant, consequential," 3 Aug. 2018 Urbanites defined themselves as forward-looking sophisticates who sneered at yokels in backwaters; cosmopolitanism faced off against parochialism. Sarah Churchwell, The New York Review of Books, "America’s Original Identity Politics," 7 Feb. 2019 Without the struggle most of the money goes away and the Palestinians, whether as a state or a protectorate, are left being an impoverished, raucous backwater with little future. WSJ, "Try Something New After 70 Years of Failure," 6 Nov. 2018 First announced back at The Game Awards, the game looks to blend the first person RPG gameplay of Fallout with a somewhat over-the-top sci-fi universe, that takes place on what looks like a backwater planet. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The 14 biggest announcements for Microsoft Xbox at E3 2019," 9 June 2019 What's fascinating about Arcimoto is the fact that such a small company making such a quirky vehicle in such a manufacturing backwater even has a chance of success at all. Edward Niedermeyer, Ars Technica, "Arcimoto raised $19 million to build “fun utility vehicles”—now what?," 11 July 2018 Since then, the industry has grown from a financial backwater with less than $1 trillion in assets into a behemoth with more than 2,000 products that invest in everything from Argentine debt to derivatives on Wall Street’s fear gauge. Gabriel T. Rubin, WSJ, "SEC Moves to Streamline Exchange-Traded Fund Launches," 28 June 2018 As for his track record, Mahathir has been credited with transforming Malaysia from a Southeast Asian backwater into a modern economy. Elaine Kurtenbach And Eileen Ng, Fox News, "Opposition election win in Malaysia ups economic uncertainty," 11 May 2018 The Clearwater millpond of Potlatch Forests, for example, has a backwater of 769 acres, which can easily handle the 50 million feet of a log drive. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Lost Art of Floating Logs Down the River," 16 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backwater.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of backwater

1629, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for backwater

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for backwater

The first known use of backwater was in 1629

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English Language Learners Definition of backwater

: a part of a river where the water moves slowly because it is away from the main part of the river
: a quiet place (such as a town or village) where there is little activity, excitement, progress, etc.

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