Word of the Day : March 5, 2011

volte-face

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noun vawlt-FAHSS

Definition

: a reversal in policy : about-face

Did You Know?

"Volte-face" came to English by way of French from Italian "voltafaccia" (from "voltare," Italian for "to turn," and "faccia," meaning "face"). It has existed as an English noun since at least 1819, making it just slightly older than the more English-sounding "about-face." Although foot soldiers have been stepping smartly to the command "About face! Forward march!" for centuries, "about-face" didn’t appear as a figurative noun meaning "a reversal of attitude, behavior, or point of view" until 1853.


Examples

The mayor’s abrupt volte-face on new town zoning regulations made some of his critics wonder if he was being persuaded by special interest groups.

"I worried that [Anthony Bourdain] might be showing the signs of creeping celebrity rot -- the expensive haircut, the perpetual tan, the new, younger wife, and what seemed like a markedly more benign view of some of his egregious contemporaries (I mean, of course, his unforgivable volte-face about Emeril)." -- From an article by John Broening in The Denver Post, June 9, 2010



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