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

  • adv. With the top downward and the bottom up; upside-down.
  • adv. In or into a state of utter disorder or confusion: "turning our ordered life topsy-turvy” ( Anne Tyler).
  • adj. Turned or positioned upside down; inverted.
  • adj. Confused or disordered.
  • n. The quality or condition of being topsy-turvy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Backwards or upside-down; disorderly; chaotic.
  • adv. Backwards or upside-down; disorderly; chaotically.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. In an inverted posture; with the top or head downward; upside down.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Upside down; in reverse of the natural order; hence, in a state of confusion or chaos: formerly sometimes followed by down.
  • Turned upside down; upset; hence, confused; disordered; chaotic.
  • To turn upside down; upset.
  • n. A topsyturvy condition; great disorder; confusion; chaos.

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

  • adv. in a disordered manner
  • adj. in utter disorder
  • adv. in disorderly haste


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

Probably from top1 + obsolete terve, to overturn (from Middle English terven).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Earlier topside-turvey, topsy-tervy; probably for top so turvy; that is, the top as turvy, as it were turvy, where turvy probably means "overturned", from Anglo-Saxon torfian to throw.


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  • I LOVE this word

    October 10, 2011

  • "How is it possible after all we accomplished?" the president (LB Johnson) cried in anguish. "How could it be? Is the world topsy-turvy?"

    May 11, 2008