Definition of about-face in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˌboutˈfās/


1(Chiefly in military contexts) a turn made so as to face the opposite direction: he did an about-face and marched out of the tent
More example sentences
  • Brakes squealed as the few cars that happened to travel down that road screeched to a stop and promptly did an about-face, quickly driving in the opposite direction.
  • Then she did an about-face, marched right back into the guy's office, and declared, ‘I have one more thing to say to you: I am your customer.’
  • Their chests swelled with pride as they saluted the general, did an about-face, and marched away exuberantly.
informal U-ey, one-eighty
1.1A complete change of opinion or policy: he threatened to stop helping us, but did a complete about-face
More example sentences
  • In Germany, the food scare has sparked an about-face on agricultural policy.
  • The party's recent troubles following the policy about-face on the reform of the grassroots financial institutions illustrates the problem.
  • At this crucial period of their lives they were surrounded by people who, in very many cases, undertook a complete about-turn with regard to their social and political views.
U-turn, volte-face, reversal, retraction, backtracking, swing, swerve;
change of heart, change of mind, sea change


[no object]
Turn so as to face the opposite direction.
Example sentences
  • But she must have said something terribly outrageous, indicated in some obvious way that things weren't altogether normal, because he immediately about-faced and ran in the opposite direction.
  • Hugh about-turned, and headed in the opposite direction to be met with a similar fate.
  • Suddenly she about-faced and grappled him into the undergrowth.


(about face!)
(In military contexts) a command to make an about-face.
Example sentences
  • Finally, looking back he said, ‘O soldiers of Kalinjar, right about turn!’


Mid 19th century: shortening of right-about face.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: a·bout-face

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