Where does the expression “Topsy-Turvy” come from and What does Topsy Turvy mean?

To have the world seem to turn upside-down is a feeling that must have been common to mankind for many years, and for at least almost that number of years people have needed to express this feeling.

Topsy-turvy was coined for this purpose over four hundred years ago, and has the literal meaning of “top turned over.”

The first element is just top, to which the suffix -sy was apparently added for euphony.

The second element is based on the now obsolete terve (terve), “to turn,” especially, “to turn over.”

Thus it is seen that topsy-turvy is, just as you probably thought all along, “top turned over.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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