Etymology
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Words related to -ward

*wer- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root forming words meaning "to turn, bend."

It forms all or part of: adverse; anniversary; avert; awry; controversy; converge; converse (adj.) "exact opposite;" convert; diverge; divert; evert; extroversion; extrovert; gaiter; introrse; introvert; invert; inward; malversation; obverse; peevish; pervert; prose; raphe; reverberate; revert; rhabdomancy; rhapsody; rhombus; ribald; sinistrorse; stalwart; subvert; tergiversate; transverse; universe; verbena; verge (v.1) "tend, incline;" vermeil; vermicelli; vermicular; vermiform; vermin; versatile; verse (n.) "poetry;" version; verst; versus; vertebra; vertex; vertigo; vervain; vortex; -ward; warp; weird; worm; worry; worth (adj.) "significant, valuable, of value;" worth (v.) "to come to be;" wrangle; wrap; wrath; wreath; wrench; wrest; wrestle; wriggle; wring; wrinkle; wrist; writhe; wrong; wroth; wry.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vartate "turns round, rolls;" Avestan varet- "to turn;" Hittite hurki- "wheel;" Greek rhatane "stirrer, ladle;" Latin vertere (frequentative versare) "to turn, turn back, be turned; convert, transform, translate; be changed," versus "turned toward or against;" Old Church Slavonic vrŭteti "to turn, roll," Russian vreteno "spindle, distaff;" Lithuanian verčiu, versti "to turn;" German werden, Old English weorðan "to become;" Old English -weard "toward," originally "turned toward," weorthan "to befall," wyrd "fate, destiny," literally "what befalls one;" Welsh gwerthyd "spindle, distaff;" Old Irish frith "against."

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afterward (adv.)
Old English æfterwearde "behind, in back, in the rear," from æft "after" (see aft) + -weard suffix indicating direction (see -ward); expanded by influence of after. Variant afterwards shows adverbial genitive. Old English also had æfterweardnes "posterity."
aftward (adv.)
Old English æftewearde; see aft + -ward. The original form of afterward (q.v.), retained in nautical use. Related: Aftwards.
arseward (adv.)
"backward," c. 1400, from arse + -ward.
awkward (adv., adj.)
mid-14c. (adv.), "in the wrong direction," from awk "back-handed" + adverbial suffix -weard (see -ward). The original sense is obsolete. As an adjective, "turned the wrong way," 1510s. Meaning "clumsy, wanting ease and grace in movement" recorded by 1520s. Of persons, the meaning "embarrassed, ill-at-ease" is from 1713s. Related: Awkwardly. Other 15c.-17c. formations from awk, none of them surviving, were awky, awkly, awkness.
backward (adv.)
"with the face to the rear, in the direction behind," c. 1300, from abakward, from Old English on bæc (see back (adv.), and compare aback) + -weard adjectival and adverbial suffix (see -ward).

Old English had the adverb bæcling. As an adjective, from 1550s. Meaning "behindhand with regard to progress" is first attested 1690s. To ring bells backward (from lowest to highest), c. 1500, was a signal of alarm for fire or invasion, or to express dismay. Another Middle English word for "backward, wrongly" was arseward (c. 1400); Old English had earsling.
downward (adv.)

"from a higher to a lower place, state, or condition," late 12c., from down (adv.) + -ward. As a preposition, "down," by late 14c. As an adjective, "moving or tending from a higher to a lwer place, state, or condition," from 1550s. As an adverb Old English had aduneweard. Downwards (c. 1200), with adverbial genitive, had a parallel in Old English ofduneweardes.

eastward (adv.)
also eastwards, Old English eastwearde; see east + -ward. As an adjective mid-15c., from the adverb.
forward (adv.)
Old English forewearde "toward the front, in front; toward the future; at the beginning;" see fore + -ward. Adjectival sense of "early" is from 1520s; that of "presumptuous" is attested from 1560s. The Old English adjective meant "inclined to the front; early; former."
fromward (adv.)
(obsolete), late Old English framweardes, from framweard (adj.) "about to depart; doomed to die; with back turned;" opposed to toweard (see toward)); from from + -ward, and compare froward. As a preposition from c. 1200.