The dictionary says that a “turnaround” is “an abrupt or unexpected change, esp. one that results in a more favorable situation”. What would be the word for “an abrupt or unexpected change” which is NOT favourable and worsens the situation?

  • "weekday"... :-( – Oddthinking Jan 17 '11 at 5:31
  • @Oddthinking: ohh, so true indeed. – Arnold Jan 19 '11 at 4:06

The word could be reversal. Here are links to OED Online and Merriam Webster.

Many Internet firms have suffered a painful reversal of fortune.

  • 1
    Could go either way with a modifier - "The team saw a miraculous reversal at the end of the season saving them from relegation" – HorusKol Jan 17 '11 at 12:12
  • Yes, thank you, it sounds like the best option for what I’ve got. – Arnold Jan 19 '11 at 4:07

I cannot think of a word but two good expressions would be:

  • take a turn for the worse
  • take a nosedive
  • I vote for "nosedive." – Tom Au Nov 9 '12 at 2:15
  • nosedive++ .... – OpenSorceress Aug 13 '13 at 9:59

Don't hold me to this but 'upset' as a verb can mean overtun and to become overturned. Because of the way we use it day to day. I feel like it's taken on a mainly pejorative sense.


"Turnarounds" are rarely unexpected, in the context of economics, or the fortunes of people or individual companies. More often, it has the sense of "self-rescue".

I like Jimi Oke's "take a turn for the worse".


I would suggest calling it "a disaster."


For an unexpected change of fortune, I can think of an optimistic word...

Because colloquially we plan for our plans to succeed one can usually use the optimistic term setback OED. Example: "The injury of their star player was a significant setback for the team."

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