Definition of reversal in US English:



  • 1A change to an opposite direction, position, or course of action.

    ‘a dramatic reversal in population decline in the Alps’
    ‘the reversal of tidal currents’
    • ‘There has been an extraordinary reversal in the parties' positions on Europe.’
    • ‘I stress this pattern because July has been a wet month, a dramatic reversal from the driest June on record.’
    • ‘There was, nevertheless, one positive effect in this reversal in popularity.’
    • ‘The data therefore chronicle a dramatic reversal in the direction of invasion.’
    • ‘The mayor's comments marked a reversal of his previous position on the issue.’
    • ‘This remarkable reversal of roles is the film's strongest dynamic and occurs between virtually all the characters.’
    • ‘Stopped just eighty-six meters from a collision, the frigate's commander was no doubt dumbfounded by the sudden reversal of position.’
    • ‘They maintained their lead through April, the latest data available, marking a dramatic reversal from 1999.’
    • ‘Clearly, such a reversal of the current course would not be achievable overnight.’
    • ‘In both years of this study, the highest ice speeds were observed following reversals of direction.’
    • ‘Even in the earliest stages of new growth, complete reversals in budding directions of zooids are evident.’
    • ‘For arrogant unilateralists, it is a dramatic reversal.’
    • ‘The dramatic reversal illustrates the extent to which the media's polling results are simply measuring the impact of their own coverage.’
    • ‘The land is zoned ‘green belt’ and ‘sensitive landscape’, making any change a serious reversal of current spatial policy.’
    • ‘At the same time, the whole gender reversal at play in the film is a bit trite - the woman as breadwinner, juggling a spouse and a lover, etc.’
    • ‘However, after their reversal of political positions, both are still adjusting to their roles cautiously and climbing on their learning curves.’
    • ‘One must look back to the early 1930s to find such a dramatic reversal.’
    • ‘The Kilmovee, Urlaur, Kilkelly, and Glann and surrounding areas have now benefited from the work of past years by devoted people wishing for a reversal of the rural population decline.’
    • ‘Compared to the results of the national elections held last September 22, the reversal is no less dramatic.’
    • ‘Monsoon is used to describe seasonal reversals of wind direction, caused by temperature differences between the land and sea.’
    turnaround, turnround, turnabout, about-face, volte-face, change of heart, u-turn, sea change, swing, shift, swerve, backtracking, rowback
    swap, exchange, change, swapping, trade, trading, interchange, transposition, inversion
    alteration, changing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Law An annulment of a judgment, sentence, or decree made by a lower court or authority.
      ‘the Court has upheld the appellate justices in their reversal of the trial court judgment’
      • ‘All they can achieve, they assume, is the preservation of a clean trial record for appeal, and the reversal of the trial court ruling.’
      • ‘The reversal in the Supreme Court turned on the application of s.2 of the Charter.’
      • ‘Most of the mistrials and reversals have been caused by prosecutors' reliance on a confession by Peter Quartararo that appellate courts consistently have ruled inadmissible because they said it was coerced by police.’
      • ‘On the appeal the appellant is not seeking an offer which can be accepted or refused; the appellant is seeking the reversal of a decision to dismiss.’
      • ‘After three trials on separate charges arising out of the original events, resulting in three guilty verdicts, three appeals court reversals, and one acquittal, Cortez was finally convicted of murder.’
    2. 1.2 An adverse change of fortune.
      ‘the league champions suffered a reversal at the finals last month’
      • ‘Tony Blair and Mr Brown had made clear beforehand they would not implement the review but the reversals were the first suffered by the Labour leadership at the conference since a revolt over pensions two years ago.’
      • ‘Townsley's goal and then Ged Brannan's penalty, two minutes into injury time, represented a dramatic reversal for an unfortunate Dunfermline side.’
      • ‘But the party suffered serious reversals Feb. 25, when it lost all of four state-level elections.’
      • ‘Certainly the Palestinians have suffered reversals and losses.’
      • ‘Last night O'Sullivan suffered a similar reversal, just as he had done in the 1997 final against Steve Davis.’
      setback, reverse, upset, check, non-success, failure, misfortune, mishap, misadventure, accident, disaster, tragedy, catastrophe, blow, disappointment, adversity, hardship, affliction, vicissitude, defeat, rout
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Photography Direct production of a positive image from an exposed film or plate; direct reproduction of a positive or negative image.
      • ‘In the box were six rolls of pristine 16 mm Kodachrome reversal motion-picture film.’
      • ‘This was a ‘five lights’ production filmed on 16 mm reversal stock because they couldn't afford better.’
      • ‘When using very high bromide developers, it may be necessary to use a 200 to 250 watt light bulb in order to get good reversal effects.’
      • ‘Since super-8 film is reversal stock like slide film, I had never thought a super-8 negative could exist.’
      • ‘Liam states that pinholes do not occur with reversal processing of lith film, but we included a water bath anyway since it doesn't take long.’


Late 15th century (as a legal term): from reverse + -al.