backwater

noun
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

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 The last time the BNP ruled Bangladesh (2001-06), the country was widely seen as a corruption-ridden economic backwater and a haven for Islamist extremists, who targeted religious minorities at home and exported terrorism to India. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Bangladesh’s Bad Election Choice," 28 Dec. 2018 Image HONG KONG — Once derided as a technology backwater and copycat, China is justifiably proud of its technology boom. New York Times, "ZTE’s Near-Collapse May Be China’s Sputnik Moment," 10 June 2018 Yancheng relied on the auto industry over the past two decades to transform an industrial backwater. WSJ, "China’s Downturn Hits Industrial Cities," 21 Jan. 2019 After a secret history in the backwater of black ops, this quiet-but-major innovation is making its way to the battlefield. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Science of Russia's New Silent Sniper Rifle," 29 Aug. 2018 The historic election defeat was attributed in part to Mahathir’s reputation as a statesman who transformed a Southeast Asian backwater into a modern economy. Washington Post, "Ex-Malaysia leader’s arrest part of a swift fall from grace," 3 July 2018

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

18 May 2019

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Time Traveler for backwater

The first known use of backwater was in 1629

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More Definitions for backwater

backwater

noun

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on backwater

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with backwater

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for backwater

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