phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

Home button Home | Search the phrases.org.uk website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Preposterous phrases

The meaning and origin of the expression: Preposterous phrases

Browse phrases beginning with:
 
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List

Preposterous phrases

The English language has lots of phrases that suggest disorder or muddle. Specifically, we have phrases that refer to things being the opposite of what is normal. For example:

Inside-out

Upside-down

Back to front

Bass-ackwards

Topsy-turvy

Head over heels

The above expressions all alude to something being 'wrong' because things aren't in their expected place - apart from head over heels and bass-ackwards that is. They are usually understood to mean wrong or muddled but in fact refer to things being where they normally are. Like 'put your best foot forward' (which implies we have at least three feet) the commonly accepted meaning over-rides the dictionary definition.

PreposterousIn a literal sense these expressions are preposterous. Like other hyperbolic words - fantastic, awesome, unbelievable and the rest - preposterous has lost its original meaning and is used to mean 'ridiculous'. The actual meaning is 'having placed last what should be first'. The word spells out its meaning - the 'pre' (first) is made 'post' (last).

See more about 'Preposterous'.

Inside-out

Inside-out is a 17th century expression that is still widely used. As well as being the title of many films, albums and books, it has been taken up as the name of a tennis shot, an archytectural style, even a type of cheeseburger.

See more about 'Inside-out'.

Upside-down

Known in English since at least 1340, 'upside-down' is one of the oldest commonly used expressions in the language.

See more about 'Upside-down'.

Bass-ackwards

This US expression has numerous variants. Oddly though, the 'ass-backwards' variant that may seem to be the source of 'bass-ackwards' was actually coined later.

See more about 'Bass-ackwards'.

Topsy-turvy

Topsy-turvy is an old English expression. It derives from the earlier 'top-over-terve' which means 'topple-over'.

See more about 'Topsy-turvy'.

Head over heels

Like 'bass-ackwards' this is something of an odd choice as an expression meaning disorder and muddle - our head is usually over our heels.

See more about 'Head over heels'.