a. A swimming stroke performed on one's back, especially one using alternating overarm strokes and a flutter kick.
b. A race or a leg of a race in which this stroke is swum.
2. A backhanded stroke or motion.
3. A stroke or motion in the direction of an original starting point: a saw that cuts on the backstroke.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.