Something that's topsy-turvy is either upside down or in complete confusion, like the topsy-turvy life of a worker whose shifts keep changing from daytime to overnight.

If a roller coaster loops upside down, you'll be topsy-turvy when you ride it. You're also topsy-turvy when your life is figuratively turned upside down, like when you move across the country or adopt triplets. This word dates back at least as far as the 16th century, and there are many theories about its origin. The most likely root is the now-obsolete terve, "to overturn," from the Old English tearflian, "to roll over and over."

Definitions of topsy-turvy

adj in utter disorder

disorderly, higgledy-piggledy, hugger-mugger, jumbled
not neat and tidy

adv in a disordered manner


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