To go in reverse, you back up. If you reverse your position, you suddenly take the opposite side of the argument. If you reverse your fortunes, your bad luck turns good, or your good luck turns bad. Oops.

The Latin word revertere means “turn back.” To reverse means to turn back, take the opposite direction, go the other way. Many things can be reversed: you can reverse a decision, you can reverse a car — by putting it in the gear called "reverse." You can reverse a political argument, a promotion, even some surgical procedures, but you can never reverse the steady progress of time, no matter how many Botox injections you get.

Definitions of reverse
  1. verb
    change to the contrary
    “The trend was reversed
    synonyms: change by reversal, turn
    see moresee less
    show 35 types...
    hide 35 types...
    alternate, flip, flip-flop, interchange, switch, tack
    reverse (a direction, attitude, or course of action)
    turn the tables, turn the tide
    cause a complete reversal of the circumstances
    reverse the direction of (an alternating electric current) each half cycle so as to produce a unidirectional current
    exchange, switch, switch over
    change over, change around, as to a new order or sequence
    correct, rectify, right
    make right or correct
    falsify knowingly
    commute, permute, transpose
    change the order or arrangement of
    metamorphose, transfigure, transmogrify
    change completely the nature or appearance of
    regress, retrovert, return, revert, turn back
    go back to a previous state
    desynchronise, desynchronize
    cause to become desynchronized; cause to occur at unrelated times
    deconsecrate, desecrate, unhallow
    remove the consecration from a person or an object
    cancel, annul, or reverse an action or its effect
    fall back, lapse, recidivate, regress, relapse, retrogress
    go back to bad behavior
    amend, rectify, remediate, remedy, repair
    set straight or right
    locate and correct errors in a computer program code
    map, represent
    to establish a mapping (of mathematical elements or sets)
    return to the original position or state after being stretched or compressed
    go back, recover, recuperate
    regain a former condition after a financial loss
    unbrace, unlace, untie
    undo the ties of
    remove the strap or straps from
    unfasten or release from or as if from a hitch
    undo (the stitches) of (a piece of sewing)
    cause to become undone
    undo the belt of
    take the staples off
    remove the clip from
    undo the buttons of
    remove the pins from; unfasten the pins of
    disconnect, unplug
    pull the plug of (electrical appliances) and render inoperable
    undo the braids of
    unknot, unpick, unravel, unscramble, untangle
    become or cause to become undone by separating the fibers or threads of
    disentangle, unwind
    separate the tangles of
    undo the buckle of
    open, spread, spread out, unfold
    spread out or open from a closed or folded state
    undo the wiring of
    type of:
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
  2. verb
    rule against
    synonyms: override, overrule, overthrow, overturn
    see moresee less
    type of:
    decree, rule
    decide with authority
  3. verb
    cancel officially
    synonyms: annul, countermand, lift, overturn, repeal, rescind, revoke, vacate
    see moresee less
    go back on, renege, renege on, renegue on
    fail to fulfill a promise or obligation
    type of:
    cancel, strike down
    declare null and void; make ineffective
  4. verb
    reverse the position, order, relation, or condition of
    synonyms: invert
    see moresee less
    type of:
    assign a new order to
  5. adjective
    reversed (turned backward) in order or nature or effect
    synonyms: inverse
    directed or facing toward the back or rear
  6. noun
    a relation of direct opposition
    “we thought Sue was older than Bill but just the reverse was true”
    synonyms: contrary, opposite
    see moresee less
    type of:
    oppositeness, opposition
    the relation between opposed entities
  7. noun
    an unfortunate happening that hinders or impedes; something that is thwarting or frustrating
    synonyms: black eye, blow, reversal, setback
    see moresee less
    a serious or devastating setback
    a minor or temporary error or setback
    type of:
    happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent
    an event that happens
  8. verb
    turn inside out or upside down
    synonyms: invert, turn back
    see moresee less
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  9. adjective
    directed or moving toward the rear
    synonyms: rearward
    directed or facing toward the back or rear
  10. adjective
    of the transmission gear causing backward movement in a motor vehicle
    “in reverse gear”
    see moresee less
    of the transmission gear causing forward movement in a motor vehicle
  11. noun
    turning in the opposite direction
    synonyms: reversal, reversion, turnabout, turnaround
    see moresee less
    about turn, about-face
    act of pivoting 180 degrees, especially in a military formation
    complete reversal of direction of travel
    type of:
    change of direction, reorientation
    the act of changing the direction in which something is oriented
  12. noun
    the gears by which the motion of a machine can be reversed
    synonyms: reverse gear
    see moresee less
    type of:
    gear, gear mechanism
    a mechanism for transmitting motion for some specific purpose (as the steering gear of a vehicle)
  13. noun
    (American football) a running play in which a back running in one direction hands the ball to a back running in the opposite direction
    see moresee less
    double reverse
    (American football) a running play in which a first reverse is followed by a second reverse
    type of:
    run, running, running game, running play
    (American football) a play in which a player attempts to carry the ball through or past the opposing team
  14. noun
    the side of a coin or medal that does not bear the principal design
    synonyms: verso
    see moresee less
    the side of a coin or medal bearing the principal stamp or design
    (usually plural) the reverse side of a coin that does not bear the representation of a person's head
    type of:
    an extended outer surface of an object
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week