Meaning of obverse


The obverse is the main, or primary, side of something that has two sides. The obverse of a quarter is the side with the handsome profile of George Washington on it.

Obverse is very often used to mean “the front of a coin or medal,” although you can also use it to describe the principal or more obvious side of anything with a front and a back. Confusingly, this word also means “the opposite,” as in, “Your messy room is the obverse of your idea of yourself as a tidy person.” The Latin root helps to explain this seeming conflict between meanings — obversus means both “directed toward” and “turned against.”

Definitions of obverse
  1. noun

    the more conspicuous of two alternatives or cases or sides

    obverse of this issue”
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    type of:

    alternative, choice, option

    one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen

  2. noun

    the side of a coin or medal bearing the principal stamp or design

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    reverse, verso

    the side of a coin or medal that does not bear the principal design


    (usually plural) the obverse side of a coin that usually bears the representation of a person’s head
    type of:


    an extended outer surface of an object

Word Family

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