Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
September 11th, 2015
Episode 316 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 11, 2015 is: obverse \AHB-verss\ noun 1 : the side of a coin or currency note bearing the chief device and lettering; broadly : a front or principal surface 2 : a counterpart having the opposite orientation or force; also : something that is opposed to some other often specified thing : an opposite 3 : a proposition inferred immediately from another by denying the opposite of what the given proposition affirms Examples: The artist credited with inventing the modern commemorative medal, 15th-century Italian painter Antonio Pisano, made his medals following a design formula still used today: an obverse graced with a profile portrait and a reverse adorned with an allegorical or pictorial scene. "When parents are monitoring their children, students do well in school. The obverse is also true: When parents are not involved, students' success is at stake." Robert Waldron, The Boston Globe, 28 Jan. 2015 Did you know? Heads or tails? If you called heads, obverse is the word for you. Since the 17th century, we've been using obverse for the front side of coins (usually the side depicting the head or bust of a ruler). The opposite of this sense of obverse is reverse, the back or "tails" side of a coin. Since the 19th century, obverse has also had the extended meaning "an opposing counterpart" or "an opposite." Additionally, it can be an adjective meaning "facing the observer or opponent" or "being a counterpart or complement."