Definition of volte-face in English:



  • 1An act of turning around so as to face in the opposite direction.

    • ‘Then, off to my right around 10 metres, the shark bent, twisted and went volte-face on a sixpence, gathering speed as it cruised back toward me.’
    about-face, turnaround, turnround, turnabout, u-turn, rowback
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    1. 1.1 An abrupt and complete reversal of attitude, opinion, or position.
      ‘a remarkable volte-face on taxes’
      • ‘This position is a volte-face for Great Britain.’
      • ‘This was perceived by the mass of the electorate as a volte-face if not a betrayal of electoral promises.’
      • ‘The work shows a complete volte-face from his previous music.’
      • ‘The ardent crusade to preserve wilderness was a stunning volte-face from Americans' previous deliberate destruction of it.’
      • ‘They must rank as two of the most remarkable volte-face of all time, two sides desperate to confound stereotypes which have been self-fulfilling and self-perpetuating for as long as any of us can remember.’
      • ‘Yet their slide towards obscurity - Liverpool supporters have been starved of silverware - has not only been halted, but looks, on the face of it, to be making a swift volte-face.’
      • ‘Later, critics were stunned by his apparent volte-face into peace-making.’
      • ‘A mass of sentimental and passionate fans gathered outside the headquarters of the Italian Football Federation in Rome as the national coach announced the squad, hoping that their pleas would prompt a last-minute volte-face.’
      • ‘It does look like a major political volte-face.’
      • ‘Part of the perplexity arises from a sudden onrush of doubt: did we misread the earlier texts, overlook the clues that would explain this surprising volte-face?’
      • ‘Since an earlier Government volte-face in 2003, clubs have been free to employ professional overseas players who have come into the country under the Working Holidaymaker Scheme.’
      • ‘The volte-face was most striking among European investors.’
      • ‘Their biggest volte-face has been on the death penalty.’
      • ‘And this is one of the most striking aspects of this case: how it has forced the government into a volte-face over its public attitudes to doctors.’
      • ‘Many attempts have been made to explain the volte-face but, in the absence of good evidence for Becket's state of mind in 1162-3, they remain highly speculative.’
      • ‘Of course, the other significant aspect of the Bank of Japan's volte-face on equity purchases is that it reflects yet another step in the transformation of central bankers from macro policy makers to asset managers.’
      • ‘It marks a dramatic volte-face by the extremist regime and suggests that the leadership now comprehends the scale of the US military threat.’
      • ‘Twenty years later, in an astonishing volte-face, its members now stand for election.’
      • ‘However, the Italian volte-face did not resolve the situation, for a formidable German army remained in the country, and this had to be fought every step of the way to the borders with Austria and France.’
      turnaround, turnround, turnabout, about-face, change of heart, u-turn, sea change, swing, shift, swerve, backtracking, rowback
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Early 19th century: from French, from Italian voltafaccia, based on Latin volvere ‘to roll’ + facies ‘appearance, face’.