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[in-vur-zhuh n, -shuh n] /ɪnˈvɜr ʒən, -ʃən/
an act or instance of inverting.
the state of being inverted.
anything that is inverted.
Rhetoric. reversal of the usual or natural order of words; anastrophe.
Grammar. any change from a basic word order or syntactic sequence, as in the placement of a subject after an auxiliary verb in a question or after the verb in an exclamation, as “When will you go?” and “How beautiful is the rose!”.
Anatomy, Pathology. the turning inward of a part, as the foot.
  1. a hydrolysis of certain carbohydrates, as cane sugar, that results in a reversal of direction of the rotatory power of the carbohydrate solution, the plane of polarized light being bent from right to left or vice versa.
  2. a reaction in which a starting material of one optical configuration forms a product of the opposite configuration.
  1. the process or result of transposing the tones of an interval or chord so that the original bass becomes an upper voice.
  2. (in counterpoint) the transposition of the upper voice part below the lower, and vice versa.
  3. presentation of a melody in contrary motion to its original form.
Psychiatry. assumption of the sexual role of the opposite sex; homosexuality.
Genetics. a type of chromosomal aberration in which the position of a segment of the chromosome is changed in such a way that the linear order of the genes is reversed.
Phonetics. retroflexion (def 3).
Also called atmospheric inversion, temperature inversion. Meteorology. a reversal in the normal temperature lapse rate, the temperature rising with increased elevation instead of falling.
Electricity. a converting of direct current into alternating current.
Mathematics. the operation of forming the inverse of a point, curve, function, etc.
pertaining to or associated with inversion therapy or the apparatus used in it:
inversion boots.
Origin of inversion
1545-55; < Latin inversiōn- (stem of inversiō) a turning in. See inverse, -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for inversion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This is so to speak an inversion of sadism as regards cause and effect.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • We often meet with pederasty without a trace of inversion of the sexual appetite.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • The inversion on these particular plates was, probably, purely accidental.

    The Stamps of Canada Bertram Poole
  • Moreover, there is often need of some device to remove the ambiguities that are caused by inversion.


    Paul Allardyce
  • After phrases and clauses which are placed at the beginning of a sentence by inversion.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
British Dictionary definitions for inversion


the act of inverting or state of being inverted
something inverted, esp a reversal of order, mutual functions, etc: an inversion of their previous relationship
(rhetoric) Also called anastrophe. the reversal of a normal order of words
  1. the conversion of a dextrorotatory solution of sucrose into a laevorotatory solution of glucose and fructose by hydrolysis
  2. any similar reaction in which the optical properties of the reactants are opposite to those of the products
  1. the process or result of transposing the notes of a chord (esp a triad) such that the root, originally in the bass, is placed in an upper part. When the bass note is the third of the triad, the resulting chord is the first inversion; when it is the fifth, the resulting chord is the second inversion See also root position
  2. (in counterpoint) the modification of a melody or part in which all ascending intervals are replaced by corresponding descending intervals and vice versa
  3. the modification of an interval in which the higher note becomes the lower or the lower one the higher See complement (sense 8)
(pathol) abnormal positioning of an organ or part, as in being upside down or turned inside out
  1. the adoption of the role or characteristics of the opposite sex
  2. another word for homosexuality
(meteorol) an abnormal condition in which the layer of air next to the earth's surface is cooler than an overlying layer
(anatomy, phonetics) another word for retroflexion (sense 2)
(computing) an operation by which each digit of a binary number is changed to the alternative digit, as 10110 to 01001
(genetics) a type of chromosomal mutation in which a section of a chromosome, and hence the order of its genes, is reversed
(logic) the process of deriving the inverse of a categorial proposition
(maths) a transformation that takes a point P to a point P′ such that OP·OP′ = a², where a is a constant and P and P′ lie on a straight line through a fixed point O and on the same side of it
Derived Forms
inversive, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for inversion

1550s, from Latin inversionem (nominative inversio) "an inversion," noun of action from past participle stem of invertere (see invert).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inversion in Medicine

inversion in·ver·sion (ĭn-vûr'zhən, -shən)

  1. The act of inverting or the state of being inverted.

  2. Conversion of a substance in which the direction of optical rotation is reversed.

  3. The taking on of the gender role of the opposite sex.

  4. Homosexuality. Used in psychology.

  5. A chromosomal defect in which a segment of the chromosome breaks off and reattaches in the reverse direction.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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inversion in Science
A departure from the normal effect of altitude on a meteorological property, especially an atmospheric condition in which the air temperature rises with increasing altitude. ◇ A layer of air that is warmer than the air below it is called an inversion layer. Such a layer traps the surface air in place and prevents dispersion of any pollutants it contains.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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