Definition of topsy-turvy in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌtɒpsɪˈtəːvi/

adjective& adverb

1Upside down: [as adverb]: the fairground ride turned riders topsy-turvy
More example sentences
  • In her topsy-turvy upside down world she could clearly make out exactly where her body was supposed to be going but she misinterpreted it somewhere from perception to motion.
  • But the deeper effect of seeing the world from a different perspective, of calmly abiding in a topsy-turvy, upside-down world, may be the most profound benefit of all.
  • Not for the first time, I reflect on the topsy-turvy, upside-down parallel universe of India.
upside down, wrong side up, head over heels, inverted, reversed, upset, backwards, vice versa
1.1In a state of confusion: [as adjective]: the topsy-turvy months of the invasion
More example sentences
  • This topsy-turvy condition resulted in an expensive and chaotic quest for new artistic direction.
  • But Sarah's outlook remains optimistic and most importantly as balanced as it can be in the upside-down, topsy-turvy world of an actor.
  • It all converged one day during his topsy-turvy four-month ride as chief executive officer, when Upside magazine listed his company among the hot 100 firms in technology.
in disorder, disordered, disorderly, in confusion, confused, mixed up, in a muddle, muddled, in a jumble, jumbled, in chaos, chaotic, disorganized, messy, untidy, in disarray, in a mess, awry, askew, upside down, upset, disrupted, at sixes and sevens


[in singular]
A state of utter confusion: this economic topsy-turvy has been set in motion by employee ownership of public companies





Example sentences
  • While groping her way about, Eve barked her shins against pieces of furniture that seemed to be lying topsy-turvily about.
  • There's joy in the berthing that's managed so scurvily, Pleasure in each individual lurch; Joy in the pitching about topsy-turvily, Fun in the custom-house officers’ search!
  • But alas, in our mechanical universe and in our seedy Romanesque society, things ideal have become perverted and many of our perceptions are based topsy-turvily on our opinions, which in turn are based on other opinions in a sprawling tissue of lies and nonsense, prejudice and superficialities.


Example sentences
  • The contrast between the Stowe / Lincoln and Truth / Lincoln meetings also sets up the metaphor of topsy-turviness.
  • A more radical example of my topsy-turviness: I fell in love briefly with a nature photographer I met at this same crafts fair.
  • The toddlers made fascinating subjects with their bewildered reactions to the topsy-turviness around them.


Early 16th century: a jingle apparently based on top1 and obsolete terve 'overturn'.

  • Things have been topsy-turvy since at least 1528. The term is probably based on top and turve, an old word meaning ‘to topple over, overturn’; the extra -ys are similar to those in hurly-burly (M16th from ‘hurling’ meaning ‘commotion’) and arsy-versy (also M16th, from arse and Latin versus, ‘turned’).

Words that rhyme with topsy-turvy

curvy, Nervi, nervy, scurvy
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.

Related Words