from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The act of pivoting to face in the opposite direction from the original, especially in a military formation.
  • noun A military command to turn clockwise 180°.
  • noun A total change of attitude or viewpoint.
  • intransitive verb To reverse direction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun military An abrupt turn to face the opposite direction.
  • noun A reversal in direction; reversal of attitude or opinion.
  • verb intransitive To turn 180 degrees to face the opposite direction;
  • verb To change opinion or attitude drastically.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb turn, usually 180 degrees
  • verb change one's mind and assume the opposite viewpoint
  • noun a major change in attitude or principle or point of view
  • noun act of pivoting 180 degrees, especially in a military formation


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • That would entail an about-face for the IMF, which has spent the last year or two arguing that nations needed to make deficit-reduction goal No. 1.

    Three Buttons the IMF Could Push Sudeep Reddy 2011

  • It's an about-face from the recession, when Saks and its peers aggressively broadened their products to add more entry-level prices.

    Saks Trims Loss; Sales Rise Elizabeth Holmes 2011

  • The Huffington post points out that this is an abrupt about-face for the FASB:

    Banks Seeking To Value Assets Higher Than Market Value - The Consumerist 2009

  • The move marks an abrupt about-face one year after Gleacher announced a big hiring wave for its equity sales and trading operations and more than three years after the current business was acquired.

    Boutique Bank Gleacher Shuts Stock-Trading Unit Liz Moyer 2011

  • Chicago-based Boeing's decision to add new fuel-efficient engines to the 737 rather than introduce a new plane is an abrupt about-face.

    Boeing Chooses Upgrade Over Brand New Peter Sanders 2011

  • The companies' shares tumbled last week after an about-face in German nuclear policy threw into doubt the prospects of a business that seemed a surefire profit stream before the Japan crisis.

    Reactor Closures Leave E.ON, RWE an Upside Jan Hromadko 2011

  • Girardi—who spoke with his shortstop several times Tuesday night and conferred with general manager Brian Cashman—did an about-face, saying he'd likely keep Jeter in the lineup until he reaches the milestone.

    A Reluctant Ringmaster In Derek Jeter's Circus Daniel Barbarisi 2011

  • Iran appeared to have scored a big victory on Friday when the Iran-based firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr did an about-face and told lawmakers in his movement to endorse Mr. Maliki, giving the incumbent prime minister a big leg up in trying to form a new government.

    Baghdad Wrangling Rattles Iran Ties Sam Dagher 2010

  • Rodriguez has been involved in a similar about-face in his career.

    Nationals hope new faces lead way out of last place in NL East 2010

  • The shift back into discounting mode is an about-face from the previous holiday season and earlier this year, when lean inventories allowed retailers to hold the line on prices.

    Retailers' Holiday Hinges on Discounts Elizabeth Holmes 2010


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