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Topsy Turvy

Posted by TheFallen on February 06, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of phrase posted by Sean Ryan on February 06, 2003

: I was searching the archive but could not find the origin of "topsy turvy." Any help?

The following paste from the American Heritage Dictionary (online at

ADVERB: 1. With the top downward and the bottom up; upside-down. 2. In or into a state of utter disorder or confusion: "turning our ordered life topsy-turvy" (Anne Tyler).

ADJECTIVE: Inflected forms: top·sy-tur·vi·er, top·sy-tur·vi·est

1. Turned or positioned upside down; inverted. 2. Confused or disordered.

NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. top·sy-tur·vies
The quality or condition of being topsy-turvy.

ETYMOLOGY: Probably from top + obsolete terve, to overturn (from Middle English terven).