[volt-fahs, vohlt-; French vawltuh-fas]

noun, plural volte-face.

a turnabout, especially a reversal of opinion or policy.

Origin of volte-face

1810–20; < French < Italian voltafaccia, equivalent to volta turn (see volt2) + faccia face
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for volte-face

Contemporary Examples of volte-face

Historical Examples of volte-face

  • It was the same as that which he had for Hincks's volte-face. '

    The Tribune of Nova Scotia

    W. L. (William Lawson) Grant

  • For if the volte-face is general, the only embarrassment arises from not executing it.

    The Angel of Pain

    E. F. Benson

  • But Russia's betrayal is not sufficient to account for the Serbian volte-face.

    After the Rain

    Sam Vaknin

  • Such a volte-face as this was not only palpably unjust, it was altogether too nimble a bit of gymnastics for Duplay to appreciate.

    Tristram of Blent

    Anthony Hope

  • What will justify such a volte-face and with what excuse can he repudiate the principles with which he justified his takeover?

British Dictionary definitions for volte-face


noun plural volte-face

a reversal, as in opinion or policy
a change of position so as to look, lie, etc, in the opposite direction

Word Origin for volte-face

C19: from French, from Italian volta-faccia, from volta a turn + faccia face
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

Word Origin and History for volte-face

a reversal of opinion, 1819, French, from Italian volta faccia, literally "turn face," from volta, imper. of voltare "to turn" (from Vulgar Latin *volvita, from Latin volvere "to roll;" see volvox) + faccia (see face).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper