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  1. verbina40
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    #1

    Question what does "back water " mean?

    what does "back water " mean when used in the sentence: She began to "back water" when confronted.


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    #2

    Re: what does "back water " mean?

    Not something I have ever heard.

    You can live in a back water, meaning a place far from the action. You can tread water, a swimming metaphor, meaning to be able to just about hold your present circumstances.


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    #3

    Re: what does "back water " mean?

    I'm more familiar with 'back peddle" but I presume 'back water' - reverse the action of the oars while rowing, causing a boat to slow down or stop - is used idiomatically with the same meaning: to begin to falter in the force of one's initial assertion, to start to back down when queried, probed, confronted, or asked to substantiate a claim.
    Last edited by David L.; 18-Mar-2009 at 03:02.

  2. Monticello's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: what does "back water " mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by verbina40 View Post
    what does "back water " mean when used in the sentence: She began to "back water" when confronted.
    Hi verbina40,

    In the context that you have cited here, "back water" is a colloquial idiom that means "to reverse one's position," i.e., "to back down or away from."

    You may also hear the phrase, "back pedal," which means the same thing.

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    #5

    Re: what does "back water " mean?

    I think back-pedal is correct, but I wonder if back-peddle was ever the primary meaning? The phrase must be older than the bicycle, right? Interesting dilemma here.

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    #6

    Re: what does "back water " mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Monticello View Post
    Hi verbina40,

    In the context that you have cited here, "back water" is a colloquial idiom that means "to reverse one's position," i.e., "to back down or away from."

    You may also hear the phrase, "back pedal," which means the same thing.
    I've never heard "backwater" used to mean "back-pedal." How does it make sense?

    I think Verbina found a quote that (also) makes no sense.

    A backwater is the puckerbrush, the boondocks, the sticks.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

  4. Monticello's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: what does "back water " mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    I've never heard "backwater" used to mean "back-pedal." How does it make sense?

    I think Verbina found a quote that (also) makes no sense.

    A backwater is the puckerbrush, the boondocks, the sticks.

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]
    Hi Charlie,

    I've heard the phrase back water used for both meanings: the one that you quote (i.e, puckerbrush, the boondocks, the sticks); and the other --synonymous with back pedal -- which the link I provided in my original post (and which I have copied here) supports.

    Also, please note my original reply to verbina40:
    In the context that you have cited here, "back water" is a colloquial idiom that means "to reverse one's position," i.e., "to back down or away from."
    Clearly, the context of verbina40's cited text, "She began to "back water" when confronted.", fits only the meaning provided by the link above.

    Interestingly enough, back water (links to legal definition) also has a legal meaning. My guess is that this legal definition has given rise to the meaning you find most familiar.

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