Definition of reverse in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /rəˈvərs/


[no object]
1Move backward: the truck reversed into the back of a bus
More example sentences
  • First the boat was nose-diving towards the beach at great speed and then the sea reversed and threw them backwards.
  • The truck reversed, revved up and moved forward again.
  • Anyway, after I reversed into this lorry I thought I was gonna get beaten up by the big lorry driver who jumped out of the cab.
back, back up, drive back/backward, move back/backward
1.1 [with object] Cause (a vehicle) to move backward: I got in the car, reversed it and drove it up the driveway
More example sentences
  • With the wild revving of an engine tuned for acceleration rather than economy, Mike reversed the Escort and roared through the car park towards the entrance to the Chronicle building where Theo stood.
  • For some, owning a car is difficult but reversing the vehicle is even tougher a task.
  • At the same time, another heavy goods vehicle driver was reversing his cab to hook up another container, which caused it to move in Mr Grills' direction.
1.2 [with object] Turn (something) the other way around or up or inside out: (as adjective reversed) a reversed S-shape
More example sentences
  • We then have a supplemental draft - two rounds - where the order is reversed from that of Round One.
  • In the poem, Coleridge takes that ancient image of human purpose, the triumphant journey to master a world, and reverses it, turns it inside out.
  • The main staircase is actually reversed to create a spacious entryway just inside the doorway.
turn upside down, turn over, upend, upturn, invert
turn inside out, turn outside in
1.3 [with object] Make (something) the opposite of what it was: the damage done to the ozone layer may be reversed
More example sentences
  • Later, the media department chairperson also appealed to the Opposition to reverse its boycott decision.
  • But the authority reversed its decision earlier this year, paving the way for others to go through the same process.
  • He added that the Minister for Finance had the authority to reverse the decision.
alter, change;
overturn, overthrow, disallow, override, overrule, veto, revoke, repeal, rescind, annul, nullify, void, invalidate
formal abrogate
1.4 [with object] Exchange (the position or function) of two people or things: the experimenter and the subject reversed roles and the experiment was repeated
More example sentences
  • But in other respects, the two countries' positions are reversed.
  • As she watched her husband's ascendancy back home, few could have denied Victoria Beckham a moment's reflection on how their positions have been reversed.
  • Of course, if we judge things on a per capita basis, the last positions would be reversed.
swap, change, change around, exchange, interchange, switch, switch around
1.5 [with object] Law Revoke or annul (a judgment, sentence, or decree made by a lower court or authority): the court reversed his conviction
More example sentences
  • The Supreme Court finally reversed the high court judgement and sent the cases back for trial in January 2003.
  • Nonetheless, the Supreme Court might see fit to reverse the Court of Appeals' decision.
  • Last April, the Supreme Court reversed the High Court ruling.
1.6(Of an engine) work in a contrary direction: the ship’s engines reversed and cut out altogether
More example sentences
  • The shipped lurched as the engines reversed so suddenly.
  • They reached the deck just as the cruiser's engines reversed, bringing them alongside the victims.
  • Then disaster struck (and I'm not sure what exactly happened), as I woke up to find the engines at full power reversing away from shore with Nicholas waving frantically.
1.7 [with object] Printing Make (type or a design) print as white in a block of solid color or a halftone: their press ads had a headline reversed out of the illustration
More example sentences
  • Type ‘X,’ which will reverse the colours so white is now on top.
  • Weird images with psycho colours or strangely reversed black and white tones are the hallmarks of using this type of film.
  • The screen is a reversed LCD, giving white text on a black background.


1Going in or turned toward the direction opposite to that previously stated: the trend appears to be going in the reverse direction
More example sentences
  • Vehicles will be allowed from D'Souza Circle to Richmond Circle and not in the reverse direction.
  • The first train to Morecambe is now 15.00 ex Leeds and in the reverse direction 17.40 ex Morecambe.
  • I ended up travelling on to the next stop and then returning in the reverse direction.
inverse, reversed, opposite, converse, contrary, counter, antithetical
1.1Operating, behaving, or ordered in a way contrary or opposite to that which is usual or expected: here are the results in reverse order
More example sentences
  • The Society no doubt had to make a reverse calculation in order to determine the differential final bonuses.
  • Here are the Top Three singles from this week in 1978 and 1988, in alternate reverse order.
  • The duckbill valve must prevent reverse flow and airflow back to the heart, which could cause an embolism.
backward, reversed, inverted, transposed
1.2 Electronics (Of a voltage applied to a semiconductor junction) in the direction that does not allow significant current to flow.
Example sentences
  • In fact, after a certain degree of reverse bias, the junction will go into what's known as ‘breakdown’.
  • Grove proved that his reverse principle worked, and generated a powerful current in his laboratory, but the practical applications of his invention failed to stir him.
  • This result is consistent with outward NCKX current being generated by the reverse mode of exchange.
1.3 Geology Denoting a fault or faulting in which a relative downward movement occurred in the strata situated on the underside of the fault plane.
Example sentences
  • Both steep and shallow-dipping reverse fault planes have been observed.
  • Previous work has demonstrated the presence of important, post-glacial reverse faults in Norway.
  • It is not known whether the thrusts and reverse faults represent reactivated extensional basement structures or formed entirely during basin inversion.


1A complete change of direction or action: the growth actuates a reverse of photosynthesis
More example sentences
  • It's a switchback of mood-swings and reverses.
  • Mr Brian Farrell said last year's increase was a reverse of the downward trend in road deaths achieved in both 2002 and 2003.
  • A reverse of the pendulum could prove as catastrophic as the 1930s, with the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
1.1Reverse gear on a motor vehicle; the position of a gear lever or selector corresponding to this. See also in reverse below.
Example sentences
  • Certainly, if you were to buy a 6-series, I recommend you select reverse when leaving friends' houses so they don't see its backside.
  • The manual box is pretty nifty, but heavy to select reverse, and the overdrive sixth and high fifth gears mean it depends on left wrist exercise.
  • The powertrain is tied directly to the differential, and forward or reverse are selected via a switch on the dash.
1.2 (the reverse) The opposite or contrary to that previously stated: he didn’t feel homesick—quite the reverse
More example sentences
  • Comparing the latest results with the previous quarter the reverse is true: sales are down, but income is up.
  • If Freelove's body language in singles seemed despondent, he was quite the reverse in the doubles.
  • ‘I can't really imagine life without Formula One,’ mused Schumacher this weekend, and perhaps the reverse is also true.
opposite, contrary, converse, inverse, obverse, antithesis
1.3An adverse change of fortune; a setback or defeat: the team suffered its heaviest reverse of the season
More example sentences
  • Both sides began the campaign with high hopes, with the Villagers in particular suffering a terrible reverse in fortunes having just missed out on promotion when finishing third last year.
  • That was the message from coach Richard Agar after York City Knights fell to their third defeat in a row on Sunday, the first time they have suffered a triple reverse since April last year.
  • There was not an awful lot wrong with the performance and while getting beat is never welcomed you can normally suffer a reverse more easily if you known you've played well.
1.4 American Football A play in which the ballcarrier reverses the direction of attack by lateraling or handling the ball to a teammate moving in the opposite direction.
Example sentences
  • The team tries to throw the ball to him deep, but offensive coordinator Jack Reilly also likes to get Ismail the ball on reverses, hitches and screen passes so he can use his speed.
  • In the second quarter, he ran a reverse 10 yards to the goal line that set up a one-yard TD pass on the next play.
  • The team will give Johnson the ball on reverses, and it will use him at flanker and split end and in the slot.
2The opposite side or face to the observer: the address is given on the reverse of this leaflet
More example sentences
  • The mats will show happy, smiling faces of young people on one side, but the reverse will reveal the scars, both mental and physical, that accidents can cause.
  • A completed entry form, available from the Arts Officer in eligible counties, must be attached to the reverse of a 10 x 8 photograph.
  • Characteristic multicellular, branched hairs were observed on the reverse of the tepals and upon the pedicellate ovary of all species.
other side, reverse side, back, underside, wrong side, verso
2.1A left-hand page of an open book, or the back of a loose document.
Example sentences
  • Include your name and address on the reverse of the poem page.
  • The clauses in the problem appear to be quite legible, but they are on the reverse of the document and there is no notice such as ‘See over for conditions’ on its face.
  • The reverse of the leaflet encourages prospective vegetarians with ‘hard, scientific information’.
2.2The side of a coin or medal bearing the value or secondary design.
Example sentences
  • There were eight different denominations, with Metcalfe's design of an animal on the reverse of each coin.
  • The reverse of the friendship medals, much like today's nickels, had a portrait of Thomas Jefferson.
  • The reverse of each coin has an individual design representing the country from which the coin originates.
2.3The design or inscription on the reverse side of a coin or medal. See also obverse (sense 1 of the noun).
Example sentences
  • The obverse is the same as on the smaller coins, but the reverse is different.
  • The obverse of the medal shows the portrait of King Louis XIV and the reverse shows the Thai ambassadors showing their respect during the audience with the King.
  • The reverse of the Afghanistan Medal is based on a portion of a snow-capped mountain range with a multi-rayed sun rising behind the mountains.



in (or into) reverse

(Of a motor vehicle) in reverse gear so as to travel backward: he put the Cadillac into reverse
More example sentences
  • Straight away I put the car into reverse and shot out backwards.
  • I stepped off to the side so he wouldn't run over my feet as he threw the car into reverse and gunned it backwards, oblivious to the fact that there might be a car coming over the crest of the hill at 50 mph.
  • She threw the van into reverse and sped backwards, gaining enough distance that she could turn the big van around and flee from the scene of battle.
1.1In the opposite direction or manner from usual: a similar ride next year will do the route in reverse
More example sentences
  • Digestion is alchemy in reverse, with all manner of treasures ultimately being reduced to base material.
  • West bound traffic will be following the same route in reverse.
  • He appears to have followed Herjulfsson's route in reverse, making three landfalls.

reverse the charges

Make the recipient of a telephone call responsible for payment.
Example sentences
  • Sending money abroad is like making a phone call and reversing the charges - something you were always warned should only be done in an emergency as it costs a fortune.
  • Never one to shrink away from controversy, he said: ‘The Aberdonians must be reversing the charges if they are spending so long on the phone.’
  • At the same time (inasmuch as time has any meaning over mind-bogglingly long distances), Jonah was reversing the charges on a phonecall to his mum.



Example sentences
  • The monazite crystals range from reversely discordant to within error of concordant to slightly normally discordant.
  • The overall pattern, defined by these alternating bands of normally and reversely polarized rock, became known as magnetic striping.
  • It is an absolute impossibility in this society to reversely sexually objectify heterosexual men, just as it is impossible for a poor person of color to be a racist.


Example sentences
  • Perhaps the most radical reverser of all the old paradigms is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who introduced her old friend at the ceremony.
  • The reversers brought the plane to a stop, and we came to rest 20 to 25 feet right of centerline, a few thousand feet down the runway.
  • I'll just use the time reverser and be back a minute after we left.


Middle English: from Old French revers, reverse (nouns), reverser (verb), from Latin reversus 'turned back', past participle of revertere, from re- 'back' + vertere 'to turn'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·verse

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.