See also: -wards



From Old English -weard (compare -wards, from -weardes); akin to Old Saxon and Old Frisian -ward. Old High German -wert, German -wärts, Icelandic -verðr, Gothic -vaírþs, Latin vertere to turn, versus toward, and English worth to become. Compare verse.




  1. Forming adverbs denoting course or direction to, or motion or tendency toward, as in "backward", "toward", "forward", etc.
  2. Forming adjectives, as in "a backward look", "the northward road", etc; used even by speakers who usually use -wards for adverbs.

Derived termsEdit

Usage notesEdit

  • The choice between -ward and -wards is individual or dialectal; both are widely used.
  • Adverbs ending in -wards (Anglo-Saxon -weardes) and some other adverbs, such as besides, betimes, since Old English sithens, etc., originated as genitive forms used adverbially.
  • The adjectives toward (initial stress) and forward have meanings not predictable from the meaning of -ward.
  • Awkward has retained the form but lost much of the sense in its use of this suffix.


Last modified on 11 April 2014, at 00:31