backward

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backward(s) about coming forward

Reticent or unwilling to voice one's opinion; shy. I've always been a bit backward about coming forward when it comes to my religious beliefs. Mary is in no way backward about coming forward; she'll tell you exactly what is on her mind.
See also: coming, forward

backward(s) and forward(s)

Back and forth; moving in one direction and then the opposite. Can be used literally to refer to something or someone moving in such a way, or figuratively to refer to a situation in which no progress is made (e.g., an argument). I was pacing backwards and forwards in my room last night, worrying about this morning's exam. The two candidates debated the gun laws backward and forward, but neither could offer a productive solution in the end.
See also: and

ass-backwards

Dysfunctional, regressive, and/or bizarre. The school board is so ass-backwards! Can you believe they took away our school's art program?

fall over backward

To expend a lot of energy or effort to do something; to inconvenience oneself. I can't believe how ungrateful you're being, especially since we fell over backward planning this dinner party for you! Please don't fall over backward preparing for my visit—I'm totally prepared to sleep on your floor!
See also: backward, fall

back and forth

in one direction and then the other repeatedly; from one place to another repeatedly. We tossed the ball back and forth between us. The tiger paced back and forth in its cage.
See also: and, back, forth

bend over backwards

(to do something) Go to fall over backwards (to do something).
See also: backward, bend

bend over backwards (to do something) (for someone)

Fig. to work very hard to accomplish something for someone; to go out of one's way (to do something) (for someone). He will bend over backwards to help you. I bent over backwards for you, and you showed no thanks!
See also: backward, bend

fall over backwards (to do something)

 and bend over backwards (to do something); lean over backwards (to do something)
Fig. to do everything possible to please someone. The taxi driver fell over backwards to be helpful. The teacher bent over backwards to help the students understand. You don't have to lean over backwards to get me to help. Just ask.
See also: backward, fall

know something backwards and forwards and know something forwards and backwards

Fig. to know something very well; to know a passage of language so well that one could recite it backwards as well as forwards. Of course I've memorized my speech. I know it backwards and forwards.
See also: and, backward, forwards, know

lean over backwards

(to do something) Go to fall over backwards (to do something).
See also: backward, lean

bend over backwards

to try very hard lean over backwards We want your business and will bend over backwards to keep it.
Usage notes: usually used to describe efforts to help or please someone
Related vocabulary: fall all over yourself (to do something)
See also: backward, bend

know something backwards and forwards

also know something inside out
to be extremely well informed about something After 30 years in the fashion business, she knows it backwards and forwards. He knows New York inside out.
Related vocabulary: know something like the back of your hand
See also: and, backward, forwards, know

lean over backwards

to try very hard bend over backwards She and her staff will lean over backwards to see that you are satisfied with their services.
Usage notes: usually used to describe efforts to help or please someone
Related vocabulary: fall all over yourself (to do something)
See also: backward, lean

back and forth

if someone or something moves back and forth between two places, they move from one place to the other place again and again Nurses went back and forth among the wounded, bringing food and medicine.
See also: and, back, forth

not be backward in coming forward

  (British & Australian humorous)
to be confident and always ready to express an opinion If he doesn't like it, he'll tell you. He's not exactly backward in coming forward.
See also: backward, coming, forward

without a backward glance

if you leave without a backward glance, you are completely happy to leave and have no sad feelings about it She left the city she had lived in all her life without a backward glance.
See also: backward, glance, without

bend/lean over backwards to do something

  (British, American & Australian) also fall over backwards to do something (Australian)
to try very hard to do something, especially to help or please someone else Banks are bending over backwards to help those in difficulties.
See know backwards
See also: backward, bend

know something backwards

  (British & Australian) also know something backwards and forwards (American)
if you know a subject or a piece of writing backwards, you know it very well Ed knows the play backwards - he's seen it eight or nine times. After 30 years in the business she knows it backwards and forwards.
See also: backward, know

back and forth

Also, backward(s) and forward(s). To and fro, moving in one direction and then the opposite and so making no progress in either. For example, The clock pendulum swung back and forth. The term is also used figuratively, as in The lawyers argued the point backwards and forwards for an entire week. [c. 1600]
See also: and, back, forth

backward and forward

Also, backwards and forwards.
1. Same as back and forth.
2. Thoroughly, completely, as in He read the speech over and over, until he knew it backwards and forwards. [Late 1500s]
See also: and, backward, forward

bend over backwards

Also, lean over backwards. Exert oneself to the fullest extent, as in Dad bent over backwards so as not to embarrass Stasia's new boyfriend. This phrase transfers the gymnastic feat of a backbend to taking a great deal of trouble for someone or something. [c. 1920] Also see under fall all over.
See also: backward, bend

fall all over oneself

Also, fall over backwards. Make an inordinate effort to do something, try very hard or eagerly. For example, They fell all over themselves to be helpful, but only got in the way, or She fell over backwards trying to please her boss, but it got her nowhere. The first of these hyperbolic expressions dates from the late 1800s, the second from the mid-1900s.
See also: all, fall

know like a book

Also, know like the back of one's hand or know backwards and forwards. Be extremely familiar with or knowledgeable about; understand perfectly. For example, I know Greg like a book-I'm sure he'll come, or I know this town like the back of my hand, or John knew his part backwards and forwards. The first of these hyperbolic idioms, dating from the early 1800s, has a close cousin in read like a book, which means "to discern someone's intent," as in I can read Greg like a book; also see under open book. The second ( back of hand) dates only from the mid-1900s. Also see backwards and forwards, def. 2; inside out, def. 2; know all the answers.
See also: book, know, like
References in classic literature ?
Brother Ned, my dear fellow, Mr Nickleby waits to shake hands and say goodbye; Mr Nickleby won't be long gone; this poor chap will soon get better, very soon get better; and then he'll find out some nice homely country-people to leave him with, and will go backwards and forwards sometimes--backwards and forwards you know, Ned.
This fact, which has been doubted, is quite true; I have seen them several times with their heads backwards in a completely inverted position.
It is a curious circumstance that, when crying out, they throw their heads upwards and backwards, after the same manner as the Carrancha.
It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.
He poured out these words fiercely, all in a breath, walking backwards and forwards, and striking about him in the air with his whip.
However that may be, I heard his voice calling loudly and angrily in the new wing of the house, as I was taking a turn backwards and forwards along the gallery the last thing at night.
And what I tell you is this--that as long as our people go backwards and forwards, to and fro, up and down, to that there jolly old Maypole, lettering, and messaging, and fetching and carrying, you couldn't help your son keeping company with that young lady by deputy,--not if he was minded night and day by all the Horse Guards, and every man of 'em in the very fullest uniform.
If you knew how this chap, this Joseph Willet--that's his name--comes backwards and forwards to our house, libelling, and denouncing, and threatening you, and how I shudder when I hear him, you'd hate him worse than I do,-- worse than I do, sir,' said Mr Tappertit wildly, putting his hair up straighter, and making a crunching noise with his teeth; 'if sich a thing is possible.
In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards.
This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically.
Quilp, who was as strong as a lion, easily kept his hold until the boy was tugging at it with his utmost power, when he suddenly let it go and sent him reeling backwards, so that he fell violently upon his head.
How very often you have come backwards and forwards lately to Mr Quilp, my dear.
BATMAN(TM): The Ride Backwards and El Diablo Headline 2015 Spring/Summer Season
In the first, I was on my way to school and a mate decided to be irritating by walking right in front of me - backwards.
There are three directions we're moving - that's forwards, backwards or standing still.