"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.