I've thought さかさま to mean to rotate 180" over the X-axis. In dictionaries, I see the definition "to invert, upside down; to flip" ok.

But "to reverse, back to front" is also included in some dictionaries as a "secondary" definition for さかさま。This seems strange.

In daily use Japanese, さかさま 99% of the time means "rotate over the X-axis and turn something upside down. to invert / flip", right? And saying "さかさまにしろ" is like telling someone to "stand on their head"?

  • I've only ever encountered the "reverse" sense in reference to either 1) the ordering of something, where 逆さまにする would mean to reverse the ordering, or 2) the inside-outness of something, where 逆さまにする would mean to turn something inside-out from its current state. I've never seen 逆さまにする in reference to simply turning a single thing around so that it's back-to-front. Do you have any sample sentences from your dictionary that illustrate this sense? – Eiríkr Útlendi Dec 17 '19 at 0:58
  • "逆にする" is what I'd heard in daily Japanese for reversing actions or intangibles. I don't think I've ever heard さかさま used before。For some reason, I think 逆さまにする requires the flipping of a physical object. I'm putting up Christmas decorations, and maybe that one would look better if physically flipped over (逆さまにした). – user312440 Dec 17 '19 at 1:24
  • However, in that case, you're referring to "flipped top-to-bottom", yes? That's the sense I'm familiar with for 逆さま. Using 逆さま for "front-to-back" sounds odd to me. – Eiríkr Útlendi Dec 17 '19 at 1:26
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi I'm mostly trying to brainstorm an answer for the question "how to say 'turn around!' in Japanese" But I think " 逆さまにしろ!" means "Stand on your head!" – user312440 Dec 17 '19 at 1:32
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    ^ "逆さまにしろ!" means "Stand on your head!" <-- "Stand (on your head)" is intransitive so it should (at least grammatically) be [逆]{さか}さまになれ. We usually say it [逆立]{さかだ}ちしろ, though. For "turn something upside down" we also have ひっくり[返]{かえ}す (intransitive: ひっくり返る). For "turn something inside out" we usually use [裏返]{うらがえ}す (noun: 裏返し), or ひっくり返す (but not 逆さまにする). "逆にする" is what I'd heard... [逆]{さか}さまにする is more colloquial than [逆]{ぎゃく}にする. – Chocolate Dec 17 '19 at 2:29

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