Word of the Day

Sunday, June 22, 2014

arsy-varsy

\AHR-see-VAHR-see\ , adjective;
1.
Informal. wrong end foremost; completely backward: an arsy-varsy way of doing things.
adverb:
1.
Informal. in a backward or thoroughly mixed-up fashion: The papers are all filed arsy-varsy.
Quotes:
Lucas left her to press Lestrade, who was awkwardly composing a narrative in which he was a marginal figure, brought in arsy-varsy. He found the old guide waiting impatiently, in fear that his clientele would evaporate amid disorder.
-- Robert Stone, Damascus Gate, 1998
...a gob, a prayer, a lesson, a little of each, a prayer got by rote in case of emergency before the soul resigns and bubbling up all arsy-varsy in the old mouth bereft of words, in the old head done with listening, there I am old, it doesn't take long...
-- Samuel Beckett, Stories and Texts for Nothing, 1967
Origin:
This term first came to English in the 1530s. It is probably an alteration of the Latin vice versa with arse substituted to make a facetious rhyming compound.
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