I mean the noun 'reverse' in the driving context, like 'drive and reverse'.

Is there any replacement for 'reverse' in this context?

Do you use, for example, 'backwards' instead of 'reverse' in America?

2 Answers 2


As a noun in a driving context the only meaning of "reverse" is the name of the gear setting. The name of the is gear is always "reverse". There are no alternatives in general use.

Put the car in reverse. (not "put the car in back" or "in backwards")

As a verb, or an adjective there are more options. You can drive "backwards". You can "back up". You can "be backing into a space". These are not nouns.

"Driving back" can mean reversing, but it usually means returning to the start point while driving in the normal way

We drove to the shops, bought ice cream, then drove back. (We didn't reverse the car home!)


In America we sometimes refer to "backing up", or simply "backing". When the car is in a parked position (especially in a driveway that runs perpendicular to the road), people say that they need to "back out" (before they drive away).

Example sentences:

"When backing, you should turn your whole body to watch the surroundings behind you."

"I can't see around all those bushes. Could you get out and watch for traffic while I back out?"

"In order to pass your driving test, you need to be able to back up the car in a straight line for thirty-five feet."

We don't typically talk about driving "backwards". "Backwards" sounds like you are doing something wrong.

  • 1
    "Back up" is also used in BrE, especially when parking.
    – Mick
    Aug 4, 2019 at 4:02

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