back·wa·ter (băkwô′tər, -wŏt′ər)
a. Water held or pushed back by or as if by a dam or current.
b. A body of water thus formed.
c. An inlet or side channel, as on a river, that has little or no current.
2. 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).
3. 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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.