overturn

overturn
overturn, upset, capsize, overthrow, subvert are comparable because they carry a common basic meaning—to cause to fall, or, intransitively, to fall, from the normal or proper position. Otherwise they vary widely in their applications and implications.
Overturn is usually the least explicit in its additional implications; sometimes it implies a turning upside down
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the boat overturned and floated with its keel upwards

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but more often it implies a turning on the side so that the thing affected lies flat on the ground
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overturn a chair by hitting against it

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they overturned me in the dust, rubbed thistles into my hair, and left me— Masters

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Sometimes, especially when the thing affected is a state, an institution, or something which has been built up or become established, the term also implies a breaking down and consequently a ruining or destroying
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long-reverenced titles cast away as weeds; laws overturnedWordsworth

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handed down a decision which overturned a century-old judicial rule— Walter Goodman

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a lever for prying apart and overturning the coalition— Straight

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Upset is the familiar term and implies especially a loss of balance, sometimes physical, sometimes mental, often emotional (for this sense of upset see DISCOMPOSE) as the result of some external or internal cause or agency
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no birds in last year's nests—the winds have torn and upset the mossy structures in the bushes— Jefferies

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a European war lays its blight on whole peoples, deranges their life, upsets their standards of judgement— Montague

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But upset more often than overturn is used to imply the abolition of something established or the demolishing of something built up
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the general's calculations were upset by the swift advance of the enemy

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we are bound to be very cautious in coming to the conclusion that the Fourteenth Amendment has upset what thus far has been established and accepted for a long time— Justice Holmes

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Capsize is specifically applicable to the upsetting or overturning of a boat; in more general use it usually suggests a complete overturning and is sometimes employed in an extended sense to imply a turning, especially a sudden turning, upside down or topsy-turvy, not only physically, but mentally or morally
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it may well have been the comedians who restored the theatre's balance when the tragedians threatened to capsize it into absurdity— Bridges-Adams

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Overthrow (see also CONQUER) carries a stronger implication of the exercise of force, violence, or strategy than any of the preceding terms; it often also implies consequent defeat, destruction, or ruin
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trees overthrown by a storm

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seek to overthrow religion

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my plans were overthrownDarwin

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traditional beliefs which science may overthrowCohen

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Subvert implies an overturning or overthrowing of something held to be of intrinsic value (as a form of government, or morality, or religion) by undermining its supports or weakening its foundations; often it suggests the operation of insidious or corrupting influences
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this doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written constitutions— John Marshall

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a . . . question . . . whether more harm will be done to morality by weakening or subverting established usage than good— Alexander

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representative government . . . easily may be, and in England has been, used to subvert equality and fraternity— Brownell

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Analogous words: invert, *reverse, transpose

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • overturn — over·turn vt: overrule Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. overturn …   Law dictionary

  • Overturn — O ver*turn , n. The act off overturning, or the state of being overturned or subverted; overthrow; as, an overturn of parties. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Overturn — O ver*turn , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Overturned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Overturning}.] 1. To turn or throw from a basis, foundation, or position; to overset; as, to overturn a carriage or a building. [1913 Webster] 2. To subvert; to destroy; to overthrow …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • overturn — UK US /ˌəʊvəˈtɜːn/ verb [T] ► LAW to change a legal decision: overturn a decision/verdict/ruling »The Court of Appeal overturned the earlier decision …   Financial and business terms

  • overturn — Upset or change around; e.g., if certain security is proven to be invalid. (Dictionary of Canadian Bankruptcy Terms) United Glossary of Bankruptcy Terms 2012 …   Glossary of Bankruptcy

  • overturn — (v.) early 13c., of a wheel, to rotate, roll over, from OVER (Cf. over) + TURN (Cf. turn) (v.). Attested from c.1300 in general trans. sense to throw over violently; figurative meaning to ruin, destroy is from late 14c. Of judicial decisions, to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • overturn — [v] flip over annul, bring down, capsize, countermand, down, invalidate, invert, keel over, knock down, knock over, nullify, overbalance, prostrate, repeal, rescind, reverse, roll, set aside, spill, tip over, topple, tumble, turn over, turn… …   New thesaurus

  • overturn — ► VERB 1) turn over and come to rest upside down. 2) abolish, invalidate, or reverse (a decision, system, belief, etc.) …   English terms dictionary

  • overturn — [ō΄vər tʉrn′; ] for n. [ ō′vər tʉrn΄] vt. 1. to turn or throw over; upset 2. to conquer; defeat; ruin vi. to turn or tip over; capsize n. an overturning or being overturned SYN. UPSET …   English World dictionary

  • Overturn — For the unmaking of a contract between parties, see Overturning. Not to be confused with Turnover. Overturn Developer(s) Studio Zan Publisher(s) …   Wikipedia

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