Definition of inversion in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The action of inverting something or the state of being inverted.

    ‘the inversion of the normal domestic arrangement’
    [count noun] ‘an inversion of traditional customer–supplier relationships’
    • ‘The inversion of sacred to profane suggests a downward transformation from the spiritual to the material plane, a profane commingling of the human and divine, the flesh and the spirit.’
    • ‘Verlan is a French banlieu slang which relies on constant inversion of syllables.’
    • ‘The media who perpetrate this outright inversion of the truth truly have blood on their hands.’
    • ‘That moral inversion did not collapse with the Berlin Wall - it is the chief motor of political correctness, itself invented by Lenin.’
    • ‘Why should it be this emotional scale (as opposed to joy vs. pain, or pride vs. envy) whose expressions are subject to positive-to-negative inversion?’
    • ‘This inversion of the ‘normal’ reaction to such an illness is quite typical of the show.’
    • ‘What gives to this autobiography its particular value is its inversion of insider-outsider positions.’
    • ‘Heschel successfully demonstrates that Geiger's project was one of inversion - not to Christianize Judaism but to Judaize Christianity.’
    • ‘We interpret this pattern as a Mesozoic normal fault zone whose inversion gave rise, along strike to the NW, to the south Cameros thrust.’
    • ‘The principal explanation lies in the obscene moral inversion of victim culture.’
    • ‘For many of these parents, this inversion of responsibility is not simply a reaction forced on them by external pressures: it is what they believe is right.’
    • ‘This summer, I realized I was the servant and it the master and resolved this inversion of the natural order in Kirkian fashion, by taking a sledgehammer to it.’
    • ‘The inversion of normal architectonic expectation is not just wilful, but has immense importance for the nature of space and experience.’
    • ‘Alas, somewhere over the last two decades or so, liberalism lost its root as the word liberal was perverted to the point of Orwellian inversion - and therefore rendered meaningless.’
    • ‘Though commercial forms of play buy release from work and responsibility, traditional play allows for temporary inversion of the status quo.’
    • ‘The inversion of the traditional arrangement make the ocean view a communal experience.’
    • ‘Until and unless this fact is grasped, along with the profound moral inversion that it has caused throughout the west, we will not win this fight for civilisation.’
    • ‘The British writer Melanie Phillips, no conservative, sees in such casual assertions a breathtaking illiberalism and inversion of traditional values.’
    • ‘The most extreme threat to the principles of civility comes, then, not from the direct negation of the truth of its inversion, but rather from its perversion.’
    • ‘These arguments are an almost perfect inversion of the truth.’
    reversal, transposition, turning about, turning upside down
    reverse, contrary, antithesis, converse, transposal
    contrareity, antipode
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Reversal of the normal order of words, typically for rhetorical effect but also found in the regular formation of questions in English.
      • ‘Both poets share a frequent use of inversion and play with syntax.’
      • ‘The speech is a masterpiece of shameless rhetoric and inversion of the topoi of legal oratory.’
      • ‘The answers, however, in another inversion of the genre, are anti-answers, leading the searcher back to where he started, to himself, or to death.’
      • ‘To allude to this lethal confrontation, this terminal comedy of errors, Heine employs the language of irony and inversion.’
      • ‘Yet one of her favoured modes of writing is the epigram, that celebration of inversion.’
      • ‘The possibility of having null subjects in language clusters together with the possibility of having free subject inversion.’
      • ‘Some inversion occurs with questions: What it is?, How you are?’
      • ‘That has a fronted negative adjunct and inversion of the subject and auxiliary.’
      • ‘Semantic inversion, is the reversal of the meaning of a term.’
      • ‘One of its little peculiarities is that along with front placement of the adverbial goes inversion of main verb and subject.’
      • ‘He plays with the reader by offering erotic diversion and inversion in lieu of the expected moments of heroic presence of mind, voice and body.’
    2. 1.2Music The process of inverting an interval, chord, or phrase.
      • ‘This does not mean, however, that negative inversion is less common, or indeed less important as a geological process.’
      • ‘The eight-bar ground is a widely arching and patently melodic tone-row, plus a free bar, answered by its inversion.’
      • ‘Could a chord be played in an alternate, more comfortable inversion in the left hand to give the same harmonic impression, even if the notes don't exactly match those on the printed score?’
      • ‘I've found this sequencing only works sometimes, and it teaches students to confuse a chord's inversion with its function.’
      • ‘In fact, the inversion of these intervals forms the basis of the entire accompaniment for Wistful Memories, and the bluesy Swingetude is based almost exclusively on these intervals.’
    3. 1.3Music [count noun]An inverted interval, chord, or phrase.
      • ‘Unit 3 presents major scales, triads and inversions, and chord progressions on white-key tonics.’
      • ‘The V7 and IV chords in standard inversions are quickly introduced, and the remainder of the book generally uses the hands together with chords accompanying a single-line melody.’
      • ‘Version six is an inversion of original material for the right hand with a polyrhythmic left-hand accompaniment.’
      • ‘The treble voice of Edward's theme is a modified inversion of its own bassline, and thus, by extension, it too is a variant of the Mother's theme.’
      • ‘As students progress to the second CD, they will find extensive theory resources, including chord inversions and building scales of all types, even a ‘weird’ one.’
    4. 1.4Physics A transposition in the relative numbers of atoms, molecules, etc. occupying particular energy levels.
      • ‘This requires a population inversion of atoms that are in excited states, which is maintained by ‘pumping ‘the cavity externally.’’
      • ‘The nature of the active medium also determines how the energy to cause the population inversion is supplied.’
      • ‘When electrons in the excited state outnumber electrons in the resting, or ground state, however, population inversion has taken place.’
      • ‘Amplified spontaneous emission, which limits the maximum population inversion, determines the energy-storage capacity of a fiber.’
      • ‘Amplification cannot take place without a population inversion because when an electron is at rest, it absorbs energy.’
    5. 1.5Chemistry A reaction causing a change from one optically active configuration to the opposite configuration, especially the hydrolysis of dextrose to give a laevorotatory solution of fructose and glucose.
      • ‘In its simplest form, this is a one-step polymerization reaction involving glycosyl transfer by inversion of configuration at the anomeric carbon.’
      • ‘However, it was later shown that inversion of the glucose carbon skeleton does not occur during plant AsA biosynthesis.’
      • ‘The solutions were mixed by inversion and kept at room temperature for 20 min.’
      • ‘If the bond between these two sugars is broken, free glucose and fructose result, a reaction termed inversion.’
      • ‘Reactions were mixed by inversion several times and then placed in a dark chamber with constant stirring in a luminescence spectrophotometer.’
  • 2A reversal of the normal decrease of air temperature with altitude, or of water temperature with depth.

    • ‘A temperature inversion across the lake allowed this faraway city to be briefly visible.’
    • ‘A weather inversion in the area meant smoke hovered close to the ground Monday, causing visibility problems for traffic and aircraft.’
    • ‘Under synoptic conditions favorable for migration, broadfront movements of migrants toward the south passed over the mountains, often above a temperature inversion.’
    • ‘A temperature inversion is formed on still frosty nights and traps the emissions in a layer close to ground level.’
    • ‘In a temperature inversion, auto exhaust and free vaporized gasoline sit under sunlight and the resultant stew of chemicals produces a number of nasty things that also include ozone.’
    • ‘Slow moving or static high pressure areas with their temperature inversions typify these conditions and cause rising pollution if they enclose a source of pollution.’
    • ‘Except for the temperature inversion between 0 and 1 km altitude, these profiles are characterized by a classical decrease with increasing altitude.’
    • ‘In the evening on the Namibian savanna, with a sound-reflecting temperature inversion overhead, a loud elephant call may fill an area as large as 300 square kilometers.’
    • ‘This wind comes to us from the industrial areas of the Ruhr, which has large amounts of pollutants trapped in under the temperature inversion.’
    • ‘On Oct. 26, 1948, a temperature inversion laid a blanket of cold, stagnant air over Donora, Pa., a tiny mill town on the Monongahela River.’
    • ‘These reinforce the subsidence-induced stability of the atmosphere by cooling surface air masses and creating a strong temperature inversion.’
    • ‘Wet air flowing up from the Gulf rose above freezing air to the north forming a temperature inversion above the town.’
    • ‘A temperature inversion would result at the top of the shallow layer, trapping any pollutants emitted into that layer.’
    • ‘Morning temperature inversion, which is a frequent phenomenon in the Eordea region, contributes to the higher concentrations of radon that exist near the ground.’
    • ‘Precise data on vertical rainfall distribution, temperature lapse rate, and the altitude of the temperature inversion on the windward slope exist for this oceanic wet tropical mountain.’
    • ‘Under clear to partly cloudy skies and light winds, a surface inversion can form as the sun sets.’
    • ‘A temperature inversion is desired for pesticides being applied as aerosols or dusts.’
    • ‘A temperature inversion is enough to prevent the kind of mixing that is needed to overcome ground drag and transfer the momentum of winds aloft down to the surface.’
    • ‘Transpiration rates at high altitude may be very high, as for example in Mediterranean climates where temperature inversions are common.’
    • ‘Last night there was a temperature inversion which caused a band of fog about a metre high to cover the local park.’
    1. 2.1A layer of the atmosphere in which temperature increases with height.
      • ‘The inversion layer (the stable blanket of cool air above the cool ground) would prevent vertical mixing of the aerosol cloud, thus keeping the BW agent near the ground for inhalation.’
      • ‘The estimate of the land sink in the coterminous US discussed previously gives a total carbon sink that is on the low side but within the uncertainty of what is implied by atmospheric inversions.’
      • ‘Do not spray when conditions are favorable for an atmospheric inversion.’
      • ‘Thermal inversions were identified directly by comparison of temperature readings at different altitudes.’
      • ‘Marcello's accelerometer data shows a lot of inversion layers in the thermosphere, at elevations of 1,020, 980, 800, 680, 600, and 510 kilometers.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, I realized that we were in the middle of an inversion layer: Hot air was getting trapped in the middle of the canyon's slope.’
      • ‘The air is rough, with nasty thermals and an inversion layer at 5,500 ’, so it is not as pleasant in the air as it has been the last four days.’
      • ‘An inversion is caused when the temperature at the ground cools faster than the air above it.’
      • ‘Helicopters and fog-creating machines have also been used to mix the inversion layer and to minimize frost damage.’
      • ‘Avoid burning when fire danger is high or an inversion layer (which inhibits the upward motion of air) is likely.’
      • ‘Insecticides are not very active at low temperatures and considerable spray is lost to evaporation or inversions at high temperatures.’
      • ‘Such cloud as the morning warmth develops is bumping into an upper inversion layer, spreading out and then evaporating as the surface-generated convection dies away.’
      • ‘The forecast today had a blue day written all over it, with a strong inversion and a layer of dry air above that.’
      • ‘Temperature inversions normally occur from late evening to morning.’
      • ‘Everyone has a wood fire and it's a valley and they have an inversion layer that develops so similar problem to Launceston.’
      • ‘It was much more pleasant up here above the inversion layer and I could relax and enjoy the view of the great scenery.’
      • ‘Atmospheric inversion usually occurs early in the morning.’
      • ‘In the inversion layer, temperature increases with height, often at a rate of more than 10°C per km.’
      • ‘On many days wood fires are banned, as they add to the big brown cloud held in by atmospheric inversions.’
      • ‘The winter inversion layer wrecks havoc on Greater Denver, especially places like Golden, Boulder and Jefferson County.’
  • 3Mathematics
    [mass noun] The process of finding a quantity, function, etc. from a given one such that the product of the two under a particular operation is the identity.

    1. 3.1The interchanging of numerator and denominator of a fraction, or antecedent and consequent of a ratio.
      • ‘Thus, when Multiplication / Division inversion problems are encountered, only part of the inverse relationship is easily accessible.’
      • ‘We then examined solution procedures and latencies in an effort to determine whether children used inversion or other principles spontaneously as they solved these novel arithmetic problems.’
      • ‘It could be argued that participants did not use Inversion as frequently on the Multiplication / Division inversion problems because they could solve the problems quickly and easily using retrieval.’
    2. 3.2The process of finding the expression which gives a given expression under a given transformation.
    3. 3.3Geometry [count noun]A transformation in which each point of a given figure is replaced by another point on the same straight line from a fixed point, especially in such a way that the product of the distances of the two points from the centre of inversion is constant.
      • ‘When examining symmetry in the three-dimensional world, there are four types of symmetry operations to consider: rotation, reflection, roto-reflection and inversion.’
  • 4Psychology
    dated Homosexuality.


Mid 16th century (as a term in rhetoric, denoting the turning of an argument against the person who put it forward): from Latin inversio(n-), from the verb invertere (see invert).