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Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 19, 2020 is:

volte-face • vawlt-FAHSS  • noun

: a reversal in policy : about-face


“… I should explain that, some years ago, I was dealt a very severe blow when my friend … announced that she wanted no further contact with me. She and I had been extremely close for more than a year, and there had been no warning of this volte-face. I was bewildered.” — Zoë Heller, What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, 2003

“After declaring optimistically, ‘I think I have a lot to say that might be interesting to people,’ she did an abrupt volte-face, switching to a low, confessional timbre: ‘Who knows? Who knows, right, what I’m doing? I don’t know. Maybe no one will be interested.'” — Caity Weaver, The New York Times, 28 May 2020

Did you know?

Volte-face came to English by way of French from Italian voltafaccia, a combination of voltare, meaning “to turn,” and faccia, “face.” It has existed as an English noun since at least 1819. The corresponding English phrase “about face” saw use in a number of forms in the decades before that, including military commands such as “right about face” (that is, to turn 180 degrees to the right so as to face in the opposite direction); nevertheless, the standalone noun about-face (as in “After declining, he did an abrupt about-face and accepted the offer”) is about as old as volte-face. Although foot soldiers have been stepping smartly to the command “About face! Forward march!” for centuries, about-face didn’t appear in print as a figurative noun meaning “a reversal of attitude, behavior, or point of view” until the mid-1800s.

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Ken Saunders

Freelancer, Gadget collector, Biohacker

Ken Saunders is a freelance writer, gadget collector and Biohacker. Kens’ professional background is in Information Technology as well as Health and Wellness. His experience has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He especially enjoys researching and writing articles on the topics of Technology, Food, and all things Freelancing. His articles have appeared in many online sites, including, Andrew Christian, and can learn more about his services at

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