Do a 180 or do a 360

  • Do a 180 and do a 360 are idioms that came into use in the mid-twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idioms do a 180 and do a 360, where they came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.


    Do a 180 is a phrase that means to reverse one’s opinion or attitude, to do the exact opposite of what one intended to do. For instance, a person may refuse to eat apples and dislike them intensely until one day, he eats an apple and discovers it is very tasty. One may say he did a 180 in his opinion of apples. The expression do a 180 refers to the degrees in a circle. If one travels 180 degrees on a circle, he winds up exactly opposite his starting place on the circle. Related phrases are does a 180, did a 180, doing a 180.


    Do a 360 means to end up in the same place that one started. Rarely, one may see the expression do a 360 to mean someone has changed his mind twice–once when he embraced the opposite of what he espoused, and then again when he came back to his original opinion. Most often, the phrase do a 360 is used incorrectly when the speaker means do a 180. Remember, the expression is based on the degrees in a circle. If one travels a circle back to the 360th degree, he is back where he started from. These expressions may be derived from aviation, especially from the pioneer Charles Lindbergh, who used the phrases to describe flying maneuvers.


    That irrefutable outcome of the pandemic will make retailers that have never truly developed e-commerce capabilities—or, worse, walked away from the channel—do a 180-degree turn and put a massive push behind getting their online operations into competitive shape. (Forbes Magazine)

    Dr. Theresa Tam and her provincial counterparts will speak with absolute certainty on something (“Travel bans don’t work”) up until the moment they do a 180 and start saying the exact opposite. (The Toronto Sun)

    “Amazon said they’re not gonna accept any shipments of non-essential products, then they did a 180 on that, but we don’t know how fluid anybody’s shipping will be.” (Variety Magazine)

    “I can do a 360-degree turn and wherever I look is pure nature, I don’t need anything more.” (The Buenos Aires Times)

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