somersault / U-turn / flip-flop [? reversal of policy]

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suzi br

Senior Member
English / England
Their present economic policy represents a complete somersault.

Someone has asked my opinion on this sentence and I think the word somersault is "wrong" but cannot summon up a more idiomatic phrase for the idea of a total reversal. I'm sure there is one, so please help!
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It seems that it might satisfy one the word's dictionary definitions quite precisely:
    a sudden change from one policy or opinion to another very different one [Macmillan]
    as long as that is what is meant, which is very likely (but we can't be absolutely sure without background).
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In a somersault, doesn't the performer end up facing in the same direction as before the manoeuvre ? Calling this radical change of policy a somersault is about as logical as another common phrase "complete 360 degree" turn :D A complete turnabout or "180 degree" would seem to be more appropriate.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Their present economic policy represents a complete somersault.

    Someone has asked my opinion on this sentence and I think the word somersault is "wrong" but cannot summon up a more idiomatic phrase for the idea of a total reversal. I'm sure there is one, so please help!
    It has definitely been used to mean a complete reversal. I can find some evidence that is has been used but much less than I was expecting....

    It is not wrong, it doesn't appear to be used much.

    GF..

    It is perfectly undestandable. At least to my brain...
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The traditional term in political contexts is U-turn.
    The Government made an embarrassing U-turn. (changed its mind completely)

    As has been suggested, a complete somersault would make you end up in the same position.
     

    sandpiperlily

    Senior Member
    I agree with the above posters -- I don't think I would know what a "somersault" was in terms of politics without reading the explanation provided by Matching Mole... and I've been pretty involved in politics and policy in the US for years...

    I agree with the "u-turn" or "180-degree turn" suggestions. I might also say "complete about-face," "complete reversal," "change of course," or something along those lines.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In the US, a particularly disparaging way to describe a change of position is to say that the politician 'flip flopped'. It implies not only that they reversed their position, but that they lack character and are easily swayed.
     

    sandpiperlily

    Senior Member
    In the US, a particularly disparaging way to describe a change of position is to say that the politician 'flip flopped'. It implies not only that they reversed their position, but that they lack character and are easily swayed.
    Ah, good point.

    I believe the term was popularized in the US during our 2004 presidential election, when Republicans accused Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry of being a "flip flopper" because he had supposedly changed his mind on several key positions. I once saw John Kerry speak at a University during his campaign, and the student Republican group protested outside by waving flip-flop sandals in the air.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Ah yes but ... U-turn, 180-degree turn, about-face (and its fancy cousin volte face), and complete reversal all mean that once the politician has re-landed on his slippery feet, he's facing in the opposite direction, whereas according to MacMillan it's merely a change of direction.
    I'm not sure where a flipflopper lands. Never tried that.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    In gymnastics, it's possible to combine a somersault with a twist and end up facing in the opposite direction from the initial facing. There are technical terms for that, such as "half twisting back flip." I think "somersault" is being used more loosely and generally, not in any technical sense.
     
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