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

  • adjective Turned backward in position, direction, or order.
  • adjective Moving, acting, or organized in a manner contrary to the usual.
  • adjective Causing backward movement.
  • adjective Printing Printed in such a way that the normally colored part appears white against a colored or black background.
  • noun The opposite or contrary.
  • noun The back or rear part.
  • noun The side of a coin or medal that does not carry the principal design; the verso.
  • noun A change to an opposite position, condition, or direction.
  • noun A change in fortune from better to worse; a setback.
  • noun A mechanism, such as a gear in a motor vehicle, that is used to reverse movement.
  • noun The position or operating condition of such a mechanism.
  • noun Movement in an opposite direction.
  • noun Football An offensive play in which a ball carrier running in one direction executes a handoff to a player running in the opposite direction.
  • intransitive verb To turn around to the opposite direction.
  • intransitive verb To turn inside out or upside down.
  • intransitive verb To exchange the positions of; transpose.
  • intransitive verb Law To change or set aside (a lower court's decision).
  • intransitive verb To cause to adopt a contrary viewpoint.
  • intransitive verb To change to the opposite.
  • intransitive verb To cause (an engine or mechanism) to function in reverse.
  • intransitive verb To direct that (a charge) apply to the person receiving instead of making a telephone call.
  • intransitive verb To turn or move in the opposite direction.
  • intransitive verb To reverse the action of an engine.
  • idiom (reverse (one's) field) To turn and proceed in the opposite direction.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as reversetwist.
  • Turned backward; opposite or contrary in position or direction; reversed: as, the reverse end of a lance; reverse curves; reverse motion.
  • Two points are said to be reverse of each other, with reference to two fixed origins and two fixed axes, when the line through the first origin and the first point meets the first axis at the point where the line through the second origin and the second point meets the same axis, while the line through the first origin and the second point meets the second axis at the same point where the line through the second origin and the first point meets the same axis.
  • Contrary or opposite in nature, effects, or relations: as, a reverse order or method.
  • Overturned; overthrown.
  • Upset; tossed about; thrown into confusion.
  • In conchology, same as reversed, 5.
  • noun Reversal; a change to an opposite form, state, or condition; a complete alteration.
  • noun A complete change or turn of affairs; a vicissitude; a change of fortune, particularly for the worse; hence, adverse fortune; a misfortune; a calamity or blow; a defeat.
  • noun In fencing, a back-handed stroke; a blow from a direction contrary to that usually taken; a thrust from left to right.
  • noun That which is presented when anything, as a lance, gun, etc., is reversed, or turned in the direction opposite to what is considered its natural position.
  • noun That which is directly opposite or contrary; the contrary; the opposite: generally with the.
  • noun In numismatics, the back or inferior side of a coin or medal, as opposed to the obverse, the face or principal side.
  • noun In heraldry, the exact contrary of what has been described just before as an escutcheon or a quartering.
  • To turn about, around, or upside down; put in an opposite or contrary position; turn in an opposite direction, or through 180°; invert.
  • In machinery, to cause to revolve or act in a contrary direction; give an exactly opposite motion or action to, as the crank of an engine, or that part to which the piston-rod is attached.—
  • In general, to alter to the opposite; change diametrically the state, relations, or bearings of.
  • To overturn; upset; throw into confusion.
  • To overthrow; set aside; make void; annul; repeal; revoke: as, to reverse a judgment, sentence, or decree.
  • To turn back; drive away; banish.
  • To cause to return; bring back; recall.
  • Synonyms To invert.
  • To rescind, countermand.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English revers, from Old French, from Latin reversus, past participle of revertere, to turn back; see revert.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman revers (noun, adjective), reversser (verb), Middle French revers (noun, adjectve), reverser (verb), and their source, Latin reversus (past participle), reversare (verb), from re- + versāre.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word reverse.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.