Definition of obverse in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈɒbvəːs/


[usually in singular]
1The side of a coin or medal bearing the head or principal design.
Example sentences
  • It was no wonder that this minting machine was chosen as part of the design for the obverse of the medal.
  • The obverse of the medal shows the portrait of King Louis XIV and the reverse shows the Thai ambassadors.
  • The obverse of the medal bears the text, AWARDED BY THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA and a graphic device assumed to be the logo of the Franklin Institute.
1.1The design or inscription on the principal side of a coin.
Example sentences
  • It would help to ascertain the temporal relationship between the inscriptions on the reverse and the quota list on the obverse.
  • Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the reverse inscription is separated temporally from the obverse.
  • It is large, 245 mm, and it is the same as the obverse of the medals struck for the same occasion.
2The opposite or counterpart of a fact or truth: true solitude is the obverse of true society
More example sentences
  • The obverse of blocking maritime communications - in fact, the object of naval warfare, in Corbett's view - is protecting them.
  • But consider the obverse of Acton's terse observation: powerlessness corrupts and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.
  • Equally questionable is the obverse of the Harmon doctrine, the principle of absolute territorial integrity or riparian rights.


1Of or denoting the obverse of a coin or medal.
Example sentences
  • The designs of the medals are based on a traditional style that includes a generic obverse side, based on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
  • One of them depicts a winged victory and on the obverse side are engraved the words: ‘The Great War for Civilisation’.
  • On its obverse side is the image of two worlds between two columns, representing the Pillars of Hercules.
2Corresponding to something else as its opposite or counterpart: the obverse fates of the principals
More example sentences
  • But regrettably there was an obverse side to all this.
  • But isn't occupational mobility of this kind a great strength, the obverse side of robust job creation?
  • Of course there's an obverse side to this move, it would also give the government the power to take away licences.



Pronunciation: /ˈɒbvəːsli/
Example sentences
  • But if Russell was in love with his own country, he grew to hate them with an obversely equivalent passion.
  • The devotional significance of sacramental topoi is complemented by what may be characterized, obversely, as a sacramentalization of the devotional sphere.


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'turned towards the observer'): from Latin obversus, past participle of obvertere 'turn towards' (see obvert).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ob|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.