Vice Versa Meaning - Definition & Examples | Ginger Software
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Vice Versa Meaning

Vice vs. Versa

Definition of Vice Versa

Vice versa is a Latin phrase, which is used as an adverbial phrase in English to indicate that what has just been stated is also true when the subject and object are reversed.

Vice Versa Usage

Consider this sentence:

  • John does not like Amy, and Amy does not like John.

Instead of repeating the information about Amy not liking John, we can replace the second part of the sentence with vice versa.

  • John does not like Amy, and vice versa.

The use of vice versa in the sentence above gives us the same information as the first sentence and saves us from rewriting a subject, object and verb.

Here’s another example:

  • Germany bombed Britain during the Second World War and vice versa; although, the Germans did a lot more damage.

In the above example, the use of vice versa informs the reader that Britain bombed Germany during the Second World War without needing to rewrite a subject, object and verb. 

More Definitions for Vice Versa

Vice versa is effectively another way of saying the other way around, but its definition can cover a broad range of phrases with similar meanings.

Look at this example:

  • You can fly from New York to Mexico City on this type of visa, and the other way around.

So, we can replace the other way around with vice versa, giving the sentence the same meaning.

  • You can fly from New York to Mexico City on this type of visa, and vice versa.

But the following clauses could also be replaced by vice versa:

  • You can fly from New York to Mexico City on this type of visa, and the reverse is also true.
  • You can fly from New York to Mexico City on this type of visa, and the opposite is also true.
  • You can fly from New York to Mexico City on this type of visa, and the other way around.
  • We start the morning with breakfast before going for a short walk, or sometimes the other way around; then we take care of business.
  • We start the morning with breakfast before going for a short walk, or the reverse, then we take care of business.
  • We start the morning with breakfast before going for a short walk, or we do it the opposite way around, then we take care of business.

All of the above phrases in bold can be replaced by vice versa, showing that the term has many (similar) definitions. Often, vice versa is viewed as a more succinct way to replace these types of phrases.

How to Use Vice Versa?

As we have seen, vice versa is used to indicate that what has previously been said is also true if the subject and object were reversed. But how do you use vice versa correctly? There are a couple of rules to using vice versa in a sentence:

  • The phrase being replaced or referred to must have a subject, object and verb.
  • Vice versa is nearly always preceded by the conjunctions and, or/nor, and some conjunctive phrases like rather than.
  • You can use vice versa with not, if you are trying to convey that something is not true when the subject and object are reversed.

Because vice versa comes from Latin, it is something mistakenly italicized by writers (as is often done with foreign words in English sentences). Almost every major style guide will advise you not to put vice versa in italics. We have italicized vice versa throughout this exercise simply because it is the topic of the post. In addition, a common mistake with vice versa is to hyphenate the two words; there is no need to do this.

A note on the pronunciation: There is some disagreement over how to pronounce vice versa. The first word, vice, is usually pronounced as it looks (rhyming with rice), yet some people pronounce it as vice-ah, giving it a second syllable. The second word, versa, is pronounced verse-ah. Because of the disagreement over how to pronounce vice, vice versa is sometimes erroneously spelled as visa versa. Don’t make this mistake: there is no such phrase as visa versa

Vice Versa in a Sentence

Vice versa is a formal way of saying the other way around. While it is perhaps more commonly found in formal writing, it is a widely understood phrase and will also be used in less formal correspondence and speech. In modern journalism, you often see vice versa put in parentheses in a sentence.

Vice versa often appears at the end of a sentence, but it can also be used after the subject has acted on an object. For example:

  • I became angry with him – and vice versa – after he told me what happened.
  • I became angry with him after he told me what happened, and vice versa.

Here are examples of vice versa in a sentence:

  • The teacher claims the boy is lying, and, of course, vice versa.
  • You can start on the left then move over to the right, or vice versa.
  • The Yankees increased their pressure on the Red Sox, and vice versa, but the Sox were victorious in the end. 
  • Before there is any chance of the bill passing, you must get the consent of lawmakers and then go to the courts (or vice versa).
  • Start with red and then move on to blue (or vice versa), then make your way down the other colors of the chart.
  • Do you think the benefits of after-school tutoring outweigh the disadvantages, or vice versa, for kids in kindergarten?

More Examples of Vice Versa

  • You can transfer CDs to MP3 files, but not vice versa.
  • Acids work to neutralize alkalis and vice versa
  • We will use their offices while in Paris, and vice versa when they are here, as a cost cutting measure.
  • The girls were wearing the boys’ clothes the last day of camp, rather than vice versa.
  • They begin with prayer and then singing, though sometimes vice versa, before attending to matters in the monastery.

History of Vice Versa

Vice versa first appeared in English around the early 17th century. The phrase combines the Latin words, vice, coming from vicis, meaning change place, alternate order etc., and versa, coming from vertere, meaning to turn around or turnabout.

Usage grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the phrase was often preceded by the Latin word et (like et cetera). According to the Collins English Dictionary, visa versa has increased in usage throughout each decade of the 20th century. Collins records vice versa as one of the 10,000 most used words in modern English.

While Latin phrases are sometimes regarded as academic and, indeed, stuffy, vice versa has been widely accepted in common parlance. Vice versa’s meaning in widely understood by English speakers, although as we have seen above, there can sometimes be errors with its usage.

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