Middle English revers, from Anglo-French, from Latin reversus, past participle of revertere to turn back
- 1a : opposite or contrary to a previous or normal condition <reverse order>
- b (1) : having the back presented to the observer or opponent (2) : made with one's back to the basketball net <a reverse layup>
- 2: coming from the rear of a military force
- 3: acting, operating, or arranged in a manner contrary to the usual
- 4: effecting reverse movement <reverse gear>
- 5: so made that the part which normally prints in color appears white against a colored background
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags, seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse means the back face. The obverse of a coin is commonly called heads, because it often depicts the head of a prominent person, and the reverse tails.
In fields of scholarship outside numismatics, the term front is more commonly used than obverse, while usage of reverse is widespread.
In publishing, recto and verso are used for the front and back of pages in books, and often for prints and drawings.