in·verse | \(ˌ)in-ˈvərs, ˈin-ˌvərs\

Definition of inverse 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : opposite in order, nature, or effect

2 : being an inverse function inverse sine



Definition of inverse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something of a contrary nature or quality : opposite, reverse

2 : a proposition or theorem formed by contradicting both the subject and predicate or both the hypothesis and conclusion of a given proposition or theorem the inverse of "if A then B" is "if not-A then not-B" — compare contrapositive

3a : inverse function also : an operation (such as subtraction) that undoes the effect of another operation

b : a set element that is related to another element in such a way that the result of applying a given binary operation to them is an identity element of the set

Examples of inverse in a Sentence


Addition and subtraction are inverse operations.


the inverse of your argument

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Under a legal doctrine known as inverse condemnation, California utilities can be held liable for financial losses from fires caused by their equipment, even if the companies followed all the state’s safety regulations. David R. Baker,, "PG&E to pay $2.5 billion for Wine Country fires, warns it could get worse," 21 June 2018 In February, when there was a sudden surge of market volatility, there were those inverse volatility products that were essentially wiped out in a matter of hours. Emily Stewart, Vox, "The first woman president of the NYSE would really rather not talk about her gender," 14 June 2018 But Huffman encoding doesn't do as good a job when symbol probabilities are not inverse powers of two. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Inventor says Google is patenting work he put in the public domain," 10 June 2018 The top three picks in the draft will be decided by choosing pingpong balls, and picks 4 through 14 will be fall into inverse order of each team's 2017-18 regular-season records. William Guillory,, "NBA Draft Lottery 2018: How to watch, TV, streaming info, odds," 15 May 2018 In two lawsuits over past California fires, PG&E and Southern California Edison have argued that inverse condemnation should be abandoned. Michael Hiltzik,, "Big utilities are desperately trying to stick customers for the bills from California wildfires," 4 May 2018 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, née Godwin, is underrated in inverse proportion. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Poor Mary Shelley!," 23 May 2018 This is done for the first three picks, and picks 4-14 are determined by inverse order of regular season record. Dakota Crawford, Indianapolis Star, "The NBA Draft Lottery show took forever and everyone is angry," 15 May 2018 This is done for the first three picks, and picks 4-14 are determined by inverse order of regular season record. Michael Singer, USA TODAY, "NBA draft lottery 2018: How it works, TV guide, key information and mock draft," 15 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Smith said that if PG&E does face a huge legal bill from the Wine Country fires, the company could decide to file for bankruptcy as a way of forcing Sacramento to deal with the inverse condemnation issue. David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, "PG&E’s survival hinges on Wine Country fire reports," 3 June 2018 The inverse is also true: Incentives help politicians deflect blame when a company bypasses them. Emily Badger, New York Times, "Why Cities Can’t Stop Poaching From One Another," 8 June 2018 Brugler's draft order was based on the draft order is based the inverse order of the current Super Bowl odds. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Defense dominates this 2019 NFL Mock Draft, but still has Cowboys thinking offensively | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 23 May 2018 The first three picks of the 2018 NBA draft will be decided by the bounce of the pingpong balls, while the remainder of the lottery teams will select in positions 4 through 14 in inverse order of their 2017-18 regular-season records., "NBA draft lottery 2018: Date, time, odds, TV channel & how to watch live stream," 8 May 2018 Our earnings yield, or earnings divided by stock price, is 6.1% — the inverse of the Standard & Poor's 500’s current forward P/E ratio. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "Despite what politicians say, stock buybacks aren't evil," 22 Apr. 2018 Booth was struck by the possibility of the inverse method: suction to remove the dirt. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "Google Doodle Honors the Inventor of the First Powered Vacuum Cleaner Hubert Cecil Booth," 5 July 2018 Others use inverse funds to hedge their shareholdings. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Investors Can’t Get Enough of Wall Street’s Sucker’s Bets," 29 June 2018 Southbound Lilly Road traffic should take the inverse route (Mill to Pilgrim to Silver Spring) to circumvent the roadwork. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's a list of summer road construction projects in Menomonee Falls and how to avoid them," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inverse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of inverse


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inverse


Middle English, turned upside down, from Latin inversus, from past participle of invertere

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inverse

Statistics for inverse

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inverse

The first known use of inverse was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inverse



English Language Learners Definition of inverse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

—used to describe two things that are related in such a way that as one becomes larger the other becomes smaller

: opposite in nature or effect



English Language Learners Definition of inverse (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is the opposite of something else


in·verse | \in-ˈvərs \

Kids Definition of inverse

1 : opposite in order, nature, or effect an inverse relationship

2 : being a mathematical operation that is opposite in effect to another operation Multiplication is the inverse operation of division.

Other Words from inverse

inversely adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on inverse

What made you want to look up inverse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!