Definition of arsy-versy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌärsē ˈvərsē/
informal, chiefly British


In a confused, disordered, or perversely contrary state or condition: the whole place was arsy-versy they got things all arsy-versy
More example sentences
  • This book presents waste as an aesthetic category that introduces an arsy-versy world where detritus is precious.
  • I try to do it in a kind of arsy-versy way with my system of having an assistant director.
  • The creator of these arsy-versy architectonic visions aims explicitly for ambiguity. ‘What fascinates me is how the photographic image can be manipulated.'


Mid 16th century: from arse + Latin versus 'turned', the addition of -y1 to both elements forming a jingle.

  • topsy-turvy from early 16th century:

    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 arsy-versy

Circe, mercy, Percy, pursy

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ar·sy-ver·sy

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