European Union leaders agreed to suspend visa and investment talks with Russia on Thursday in reaction to its seizure of Crimea, and said they would freeze Russian assets and withdraw from a G8 summit if Russia does not reverse course.
Source: Reuters - EU sets out three steps to pressure Russia over Ukraine

I checked in dictionaries but it did not help.

I think the word “course” means “act”. Am I right? Does “reverse course” mean “stop acting like this”?

  • 6
    Check your source: This looks like it should be "withdraw from a G8 summit if Russia does not reverse course." ... Course here means "direction of movement", and to reverse course means "turn around and go in the opposite direction". Mar 7, 2014 at 13:52
  • I think even for ELL this is General Reference, in that the meanings of reverse and course here can easily be established using any dictionary. I can only assume OP hasn't done that, and has been misled by the common expression course of action (which is perhaps a little more difficult to explain). Mar 7, 2014 at 14:18
  • I agree with these comments. Course = direction. Reverse course = go in the opposite direction.
    – JMB
    Mar 7, 2014 at 14:22
  • I don't necessarily concur that the meaning of course is "easily established" with a dictionary. It's a complex word, in that it's used in a wide array of contexts: reverse course, the course of history, over course of time, a course of action, a race course, a golf course, a college course, a three-course meal and, of course, in due course. That said, I agree that the O.P. could have taken more care to quote the original correctly and frame the question.
    – J.R.
    Mar 7, 2014 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


"Reverse course" is an idiom. A "course" is the path that a ship or airplane takes to reach its destination. To "reverse course" is to stop and go back the way you came, to head back to your starting point.

So when they say they want Russia "to reverse course" -- I'm guessing the complete original sentence said something about "RUSSIA reverse course" -- they mean they want Russia to undo what it has done. Presumably withdraw from the Crimea, etc.

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