ob·​verse | \ äb-ˈvərs How to pronounce obverse (audio) , əb-, ˈäb-ˌvərs \

Definition of obverse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : facing the observer or opponent
2 : having the base narrower than the top an obverse leaf
3 : constituting the obverse of something : opposite


ob·​verse | \ ˈäb-ˌvərs How to pronounce obverse (audio) , äb-ˈvərs, əb-ˈvərs \

Definition of obverse (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the side of a coin or currency note bearing the chief device and lettering broadly : a front or principal surface
2 : a counterpart having the opposite orientation or force their rise was merely the obverse of the Empire's fall— A. J. Toynbee also : opposite sense 1 joy and its obverse, sorrow
3 : a proposition inferred immediately from another by denying the opposite of what the given proposition affirms the obverse of "all A is B" is "no A is not B" 

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from obverse


obversely adverb

Did you know?


Heads or tails? If you called heads, obverse is the word for you. Since the 17th century, we've been using obverse for the front side of coins (usually, the side depicting the head or bust of a ruler). The opposite of this sense of obverse is reverse, the back or "tails" side of a coin. Since the 19th century, obverse has also had the extended meaning "an opposing counterpart" or "opposite." Additionally, it can be an adjective meaning "facing the observer or opponent" or "being a counterpoint or complement."

Examples of obverse in a Sentence

Noun joy and its obverse, sadness We thought they would be pleased with our decision. We have learned, however, that the obverse is true.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun First minted in 1907, the coin features an image of Lady Liberty striding forward on its obverse and an eagle in flight on its reverse. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 June 2021 The trite but Twitter-ready condition—must love dogs—stretched the challenge by choosing an image of a Shiba Inu, the most cat-like of pooches, for the coin’s obverse. David Lavie, Robb Report, 24 May 2021 In many ways, Mr. Davis, 72, is the obverse of Mr. Courtney. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2021 As is now the case, the likeness of George Washington will appear on the obverse, or head, side of the quarter, and a design focused on each woman will be on the reverse side. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Apr. 2021 The obverse of such a strategy is the taking of a position when political advantage, and not principle, beckons. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 11 Jan. 2021 On the obverse of each coin was a stylized profile of either Alfred or Ceolwulf. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 9 Nov. 2020 Another Goodacre design, the obverse (front side) of the Sacagawea dollar, was carried in the pocket of millions of Americans after the gold coin went into circulation in 2000, replacing the Susan B. Anthony dollar. Harrison Smith, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Apr. 2020 With their pea protein isolates, their gum arabic and yeast extracts, these new foods are the opposite of whole foods, the obverse of transparent sourcing. Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obverse.' 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 obverse


circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for obverse


Latin obversus, from past participle of obvertere to turn toward, from ob- toward + vertere to turn — more at ob-, worth

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About obverse

Time Traveler for obverse

Time Traveler

The first known use of obverse was circa 1656

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About obverse

Dictionary Entries Near obverse




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for obverse

Cite this Entry

“Obverse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obverse. Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obverse



English Language Learners Definition of obverse

: something that is the opposite of something else : opposite


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

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

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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