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about-face

About-face! Forward march!

You’ll often here a drill sergeant threateningly shouting those words in military films when his or her charges are practicing marching. I’ve always thought that was strange; not the words used, but the practicing of marching. Does the ability to march in perfect step with those around you really help to win wars? I’m skeptical. It might help you to get a job with the Rockettes dance company, but defeat an enemy? I don’t see it.

About-face means the opposite direction or to go in the opposite direction.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the physical direction that is changed. It can also be, say, a policy direction. For example, you might say, “The government had an absolutely amazing policy that would do the country one hell of a lot of good, but then it did an about-face because an election was coming up and they were afraid that their base wouldn’t like the original policy. Bastards!”

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