Vice Versa

Meanings of “Vice Versa”

The phrase “vice versa” means the other way round. It also refers to a position being reversed.

Origin of “Vice Versa”

The phrase “vice versa” is stated to of Latin origin, with translation being “the other way round” but now, it has been absorbed in English. It was first traced in Richard Taverner’s Prouerbes, which appeared way back in 1539. The phrase was given as; “Ye set the cart before the horse – cleane contrarily and arsy versy as they say.” Since then, the phrase has been used by various authors, conveying different thoughts and meanings.

Examples from Literature

Example #1

Vice Versa by Ambrose Bierce

Down in the state of Maine, the story goes,
A woman, to secure a lapsing pension,
Married a soldier-though the good Lord knows
That very common act scarce calls for mention.
What makes it worthy to be write and read
The man she married had been nine hours dead!

Now, marrying a corpse is not an act
Familiar to our daily observation,
And so I crave her pardon if the fact
Suggests this interesting speculation:
Should some mischance restore the man to life
Would she be then a widow, or a wife?

Let casuists contest the point; I’m not
Disposed to grapple with so great a matter.
‘T would tie my thinker in a double knot
And drive me staring mad as any hatter
Though I submit that hatters are, in fact,
Sane, and all other human beings cracked.

Small thought have I of Destiny or Chance;
Luck seems to me the same thing as Intention;
In metaphysics I could ne’er advance,
And think it of the Devil’s own invention.
Enough of joy to know though when I wed
I _must_ be married, yet I _may_ be dead.

This poem narrates the story of a lady who marries a dead soldier just to secure a lapsing pension. Ironically, the man had died nine hours before the wedding. However, the wedding goes on. The speaker is well aware of the decisions and knows that the people will think the bride has gone crazy, along with the guests. The speakers resolve that if their intentions are good and need happiness, you can grab the chance. Hence, it’s alright to be married even if you are dead.

Example #2

Vice versa by Paul Archer

I have a fear of seeing you
the need to see you
the hope of seeing you
an unease about seeing you.

I have a hunger to find you
the worry about finding you
the certainty of finding you
some slight doubts about finding you.

I have an urge to hear you
the happiness of hearing you
the good fortune of hearing you
and the fear of hearing you.

And this means
in short
that I’m ….
and radiant
perhaps more the former
than the latter
but also
vice versa.

The heartfelt feelings of a lover are shown in this poem. The poem beautifully narrates the speaker’s mixed feelings about his beloved. He is confused, hopeful, happy, and fearful at the same time. The phrase used in the title, as well as the last lines, shows its meanings clarified through this quest of the speaker. Therefore, it is an excellent metaphorical presentation of the phrase. The ellipsis shown in the last stanza means a slang deleted here.

Example #3

Vice Versa by Sarah Ibrahim

Moments of courage
Killed by those of fear…
Like the innocent smile
Stabbed with a sad tear.

This short and curt poem reflects the bitter realities. The speaker, in this quatrain, shows how fear and uncertainties corrode the spark of courage in our lives just as sorrows and tears eat our happiness. In other words, fear of something and grief makes a person hollow and coward. Therefore, the use of this phrase in the title seems to present a metaphorical presentation of the phrase.

Example #4

Vice Versa: A Lesson to Fathers by F. Anstey

The novel is set in Victorian times. The book presents us a comic story of a father, Paul Bultitude, a businessman, and his, son Dick. Dick is about to start a new school and the father prepares him for the new journey, narrating incidents from his school life. He wishes to enjoy the same pleasures again. Ironically, his wish comes true when a handy magic stone exchanges their bodies into each other with resultant new experiences for both. Dick runs his father’s business, while his father starts an academic term at the school. Toward the end, they get back to their real bodies but with a better understanding of their roles. Thus, the phrase used in the title shows good use of a denotation, showing a literal sense of the words as well as its representation through this extended metaphorical tale.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Tina’s friend laughed at her friend, saying that she had a pea-sized brain and got a vice versa response.”

Example #2: “Our hardworking engineer, Hanok has invented a new device that will enable the users to transfer their data from VHS tapes to DVDs and vice versa.”

Example #3: “The new employee was approached through email, snail mail, telephone, and vice versa.”

Example #4: “I don’t like my friend’s new bride and vice versa. She’d kill me if she had a chance.”

Example #5: “Mrs. Tom is a principled lady. She always acts by the book and never allows her friends to deceive her easily, and vice versa.”