arse about face

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Adjective[edit]

arse about face (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic, UK, Australia, New Zealand) Placed or arranged the opposite way to the way it should be.
    No wonder it doesn't look right mate, you've got the whole thing arse about face.
    • 2003, Ian Sansom, The Truth About Babies: From A-Z[1], Granta, ISBN 9781862075757, page 256:
      It’s absurd, topsy-turvy, arse-about-face. But shit, nonetheless, demands a reading, and vice versa.
    • 2004, Mick Lee, Scream If You Want To Go Faster[2], Authors On Line Ltd, ISBN 9780755201099, page 78:
      Someone blows a hole in the head of the owner a couple of places along the Gap and nobody seems to give a shit. Fucking arse about face this fucking place.
    • 2006, Peter North quoting an anonymous member of a local currency scheme, “Self-Analysis: Do Members see LETS as a Social Movement?”, in Alternative Currency Movements As A Challenge To Globalisation?: A Case Study of Manchester's Local Currency Networks[3], Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 9780754645917, Part II Manchester's Alternative Currency Networks, page 99:
      Like we didn't move here for my job, we came here (for ...) to become a student and study for a degree and it's arse about face. We tend to do things in an arse-about-face way no matter how hard we try. And I, at the risk of being hopelessly inarticulate I like the arse about face-ness of the LETS system.
    • 2010, Sean Gallacher, The Eskimo, page 27,
      We've got it so arse about face in modern society.
  2. Arranged in a confused or haphazard way; muddled.
    • 2006, Liz Jensen, Egg Dancing, page 212,
      Use them to inpregnant[sic] a woman: muddle up past and future, in-breed across time-zones, turn the family tree into a tangled bush, roots and shoots all arse about face.

Adverb[edit]

arse about face (not comparable)

  1. (UK, Australia) In a manner that is opposite to or the reverse of the way it should be, backwards.
    • 2005, Sam Smith, The End of Science Fiction, page 179,
      We've been looking at it arse about face.
    • 2011, Russell Shaw, Easy: A Dogs Life, page 54,
      ‘Look, Mary. That chap is sitting arse about face. He's having a laugh. He can't be serious.’
      ‘Don't be so critical, George. More than likely it's his first time on a horse.’
    • 2011, John Harvey, Rough Treatment, page 31,
      What was it about Charlie Resnick that made him so special? With his shirt still crumpled from the wash and his tie knotted arse-about-face.
  2. In a confused or haphazard manner.
    • 2005, John Orr, Hitchcock and 20th Century Cinema, page 67,
      Meanwhile the Law, as usual, tumbles arse about face: the killings multiply; the cops are clueless and duly arrest the wrong man.