[ in-vur-zhuhn, -shuhn ]
See synonyms for inversion on
  1. an act or instance of reversing in position, changing to the contrary, or turning upside down, inside out, or inward.

  2. the state of being reversed in position, changed to the contrary, or turned upside down, inside out, or inward.

  1. anything that is reversed in position, changed to the contrary, or turned upside down, inside out, or inward.

  2. Rhetoric. reversal of the usual or natural order of words; anastrophe.

  3. 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!”

  4. Anatomy, Pathology. the turning inward of a part, as the foot.

  5. Chemistry.

    • a hydrolysis of certain carbohydrates, such as cane sugar, that results in a directional reversal of the carbohydrate solution's rotatory power, the plane of polarized light being bent from right to left or vice versa.

    • a reaction in which a starting material of one optical configuration forms a product of the opposite configuration.

  6. Music.

    • the process or result of transposing the tones of an interval or chord so that the original bass becomes an upper voice.

    • (in counterpoint) the transposition of the upper voice part below the lower, and vice versa.

    • presentation of a melody in contrary motion to its original form.

  7. Psychiatry. (no longer in technical use)

    • gay sexual orientation.

    • behavior that is considered nonnormative for one's assigned sex, historically involving both gender non-conforming or transgender expression and gay or lesbian sexual orientation.

  8. 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.: Compare chromosomal aberration.

  9. Also called at·mos·pher·ic in·ver·sion [at-muhs-fer-ik in-vur-zhuhn], /ˌæt məsˈfɛr ɪk ɪnˈvɜr ʒən/, temperature inversion. Meteorology. a reversal in the normal temperature lapse rate, the temperature rising with increased elevation instead of falling.

  10. Electricity. a converting of direct current into alternating current.

  11. Mathematics. the operation of forming the inverse of a point, curve, function, etc.

  1. relating to or associated with inversion therapy or the apparatus used in it: inversion boots.

Origin of inversion

First recorded in 1545–55; from Latin inversiōn- (stem of inversiō ) “a turning in”; see inverse, -ion

Words Nearby inversion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use inversion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for inversion


/ (ɪnˈvɜːʃən) /

  1. the act of inverting or state of being inverted

  2. something inverted, esp a reversal of order, mutual functions, etc: an inversion of their previous relationship

  1. Also called: anastrophe rhetoric the reversal of a normal order of words

  2. chem

    • the conversion of a dextrorotatory solution of sucrose into a laevorotatory solution of glucose and fructose by hydrolysis

    • any similar reaction in which the optical properties of the reactants are opposite to those of the products

  3. music

    • 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

    • (in counterpoint) the modification of a melody or part in which all ascending intervals are replaced by corresponding descending intervals and vice versa

    • the modification of an interval in which the higher note becomes the lower or the lower one the higher: See complement (def. 8)

  4. pathol abnormal positioning of an organ or part, as in being upside down or turned inside out

  5. psychiatry

    • the adoption of the role or characteristics of the opposite sex

    • another word for homosexuality

  6. meteorol an abnormal condition in which the layer of air next to the earth's surface is cooler than an overlying layer

  7. anatomy phonetics another word for retroflexion (def. 2)

  8. computing an operation by which each digit of a binary number is changed to the alternative digit, as 10110 to 01001

  9. genetics a type of chromosomal mutation in which a section of a chromosome, and hence the order of its genes, is reversed

  10. logic the process of deriving the inverse of a categorial proposition

  11. maths a transformation that takes a point P to a point P ′ such that OP·OP ′ = a ², 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 of inversion

  • 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

Scientific definitions for inversion


[ ĭn-vûrzhən ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.