Meaning | Synonyms
- with the top at the bottom
- upside down or confusing
- reversed order or condition
- Everything has been topsy-turvy since we moved in. I can’t find anything until I unpack properly.
- The garden is all topsy-turvy after last night’s storm. The shed has blown over and the table and chairs are in the hedge.
- Jan had such awful jet lag after her flight from Jamaica that her body clock was all topsy turvy.
- In topsy-turvy earnings season, even the record progress isn’t always sufficient to make investors happy.
- Her entire life went topsy-turvy after the divorce.
- The year has been very topsy-turvy from a growing point of view.
This phrase dates from as early as the 16th century with an example in 1555 in The Decades of the Newe Wolrde by Richard Eden.
“they see the houses turne topsy turuye, and men walke with theyr heeles vpwarde”
It refers to being upside down or the apex and the base of something changing place. Topsy is obviously a variant of top and through the decades there are many variations of the spelling of turvy. One possibility is that it is from the medieval verb ‘tirve’, meaning ‘to topple over or to turn.’ There is a chance that it could also stem from the word ‘turf’ meaning someone or something had the top or head on the turf.
There is a 1999 musical drama film of the same name.