Definition of obverse in US English:



  • 1The side of a coin or medal bearing the head or principal design.

    • ‘Similarly, on the obverse of each coin is its value and a mark to indicate directionality, and on the reverse is its suit and another directional marker.’
    • ‘On the obverse, it is a picture of a quadriga (four hours and a vessel) and the reverse is a picture of the goddess Artemis-Arethusa with four dolphins around.’
    • ‘It was no wonder that this minting machine was chosen as part of the design for the obverse of the medal.’
    • ‘On the obverse was the coat of arms with Norwegian wood, and the reverse shows ‘Mother Norway’ looking out on the sea.’
    • ‘The obverse shows King Chulalongkorn facing left with the inscription ‘King of Siam’ and A. Patey on the King's shoulder.’
    • ‘On the obverse of the coin, which is shown on the stamp, there is the ‘Phra Athit’ or rising sun.’
    • ‘The obverse of the coin shows His Majesty King Rama IX, Bhumibol Adulyadej.’
    • ‘It is a medal with Napoleon III on the obverse, and the reverse shows Napoleon III receiving the Thai Ambassadors on 27th June 1861.’
    • ‘I explained that all Euro coins have the same face but that the obverse depicts a scene of the country where the Euro coin was first issued.’
    • ‘The notch is formed on each of the obverse and reverse sides of the base plate.’
    • ‘Six different coins were produced; all with His Majesty's portrait on the obverse, and the reverse shows dragons in different special features.’
    • ‘It was a 1,000 yen coin with Fuji Mountain on the obverse.’
    • ‘The obverse of the medal shows the portrait of King Louis XIV and the reverse shows the Thai ambassadors.’
    • ‘The obverse - shown - bears a configuration of nineteen cogged wheels around the center, each wheel engaging those on either side of it.’
    • ‘Why would collectors of Thai medals be interested in a French medal with King Louis XIV on the obverse?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The obverse of both coins shows the portrait of King Rama V and the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX.’
    • ‘The coin shows on the obverse the elephant with the date CS 1197, and on the reverse is the inscription Muang Thai (Thailand).’
    1. 1.1 The design or inscription on the obverse side of a coin or medal.
      • ‘It would help to ascertain the temporal relationship between the inscriptions on the reverse and the quota list on the obverse.’
      • ‘Like the obverse it was chosen by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee following a design competition.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘It is also, in a manner of speaking, the obverse of the spirit of adventure that drove the Conquistadors to conquer ‘the unknown’ many centuries ago.’
    • ‘A ‘traditionalist’ is defined by the obverse on each of those scores.’
    • ‘I regard the next sentence as the obverse of the first instruction.’
    • ‘Packer is the obverse to Wallace and it is exciting that they are producing powerful contemporary collections.’
    • ‘But consider the obverse of Acton's terse observation: powerlessness corrupts and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.’
    • ‘Balthus gave us the male view of pubescent girls trapped in closed rooms; Rego seems to be offering their obverse.’
    • ‘Snooping women got caught up, she writes, in ‘the seamy obverse of elite inquiry.’’
    • ‘That is, indeed, the essential question, and it carries with it the obverse: what is it that must not be done?’
    • ‘Equally questionable is the obverse of the Harmon doctrine, the principle of absolute territorial integrity or riparian rights.’
    • ‘Think of this as the obverse of 1970s-style stagflation, which brought us little or no growth, high inflation and high interest rates at the same time.’
    • ‘They need to embrace their multiple selves and the self as multiple, to celebrate the obverse of the ‘history’ that is progress.’
    • ‘‘Rock’ has been seen as the obverse of ‘pop’, though there was never a clear stylistic distinction.’
    • ‘The obverse, of course, was that such positive inducements would be withheld if the Soviet Union continued to pursue Cold War policies.’
    • ‘Such a narrative is the direct obverse of Schwartz and Ehrenberg's celebratory national/cartographic dawn-chasing.’
    • ‘The question is not merely the obverse of the issues which arise in relation to MERCEDES or MERCEDES-BENZ registered in respect of clothing.’
    • ‘The obverse of blocking maritime communications - in fact, the object of naval warfare, in Corbett's view - is protecting them.’
    • ‘His approach is the obverse of what Justice O'Connor did in Grutter.’
    • ‘From the beginning, Neil is plagued by his fears of losing Brenda, which are the obverse of his extreme dependence on her.’
    reverse, converse, antithesis, contrary, inverse, obverse, contradiction
    View synonyms


  • 1Of or denoting the obverse of a coin or medal.

    • ‘The designs of the medals are based on a traditional style that includes a generic obverse side, based on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.’
    • ‘On its obverse side is the image of two worlds between two columns, representing the Pillars of Hercules.’
    • ‘One of them depicts a winged victory and on the obverse side are engraved the words: ‘The Great War for Civilisation’.’
  • 2Corresponding to something else as its opposite or counterpart.

    • ‘Of course there's an obverse side to this move, it would also give the government the power to take away licences.’
    • ‘The obverse web is also woven plain, but is much more sheer and the thread is coarser.’
    • ‘The main reason for this is that the obverse side of the U.S. manufacturing revival was a manufacturing crisis in Japan and western Europe.’
    • ‘So, if the risk of contemporary philosophy is scientism, then its obverse reflection is obscurantism.’
    • ‘This obverse voyeurism involves a gaze that is marked by a global optics filtered through nostalgia.’
    • ‘In the Christian story, the obverse proposition is also rejected.’
    • ‘But this was not to the exclusion of the obverse relationship.’
    • ‘These two pictures turn out to make fascinating, obverse pendants.’
    • ‘But isn't occupational mobility of this kind a great strength, the obverse side of robust job creation?’
    • ‘On the obverse side, the authors examine the motives and reactions of owners who, ostensibly, did not understand why their slaves absconded.’
    • ‘But regrettably there was an obverse side to all this.’
    • ‘The conquests were for the motive of sway, involving massive slaughter as the obverse politics of claim.’
    • ‘We are dealing with the obverse situation here.’
    • ‘The parts of Formes which seek to substantiate this thesis do so chiefly by developing the obverse one: ‘Society is God’.’
    • ‘The obverse, but equally necessary, type of data flow is when people know reality and influence it.’
    opposite, opposing, contrary, counter, antithetical
    View synonyms
  • 3Biology
    Narrower at the base or point of attachment than at the apex or top.

    ‘an obverse leaf’


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