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Rfv-sense: Two of the defining English terms are non-idiomatic and contradict the third. Does this mean head to toe (completely)? Does it mean "upside-down"? Does it mean "alternatingly head up and head down"? I don't have suitable resources. DCDuring TALK 18:27, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

  • To me it means er, what I would call in English ‘top to tail’, ie when two people are next to each other but each a different way up. Like if you sleep in a friend's bed, you might sleep tête-bêche so that your head is next to their feet and vice-versa. I think it's also used as a synonym for ‘sixty-nine’, the sexual position. Ƿidsiþ 19:44, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, apparently it also means sixty-nine position. —Stephen 20:32, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
So, the only sense of three I suggested would be "alternatingly head up and head down"? I saw some usage that seemed to refer to a way of packing suitably shaped items in a box. I don't think we can exclusively rely on idioms and slang English definitions! DCDuring TALK 21:49, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
I don't speak French so can't comment on its literal meaning, but I have always heard that the English philatalic meaning came from the French meaning "head to toe".--Dmol 22:28, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
That's what our English entry shows. But we don't have any sense at head to toe other than "completely" because that is the only idiomatic sense. I don't think idioms don't make good glosses. DCDuring TALK 23:48, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
I've found an image that illustrates one of the French senses. DCDuring TALK 23:57, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
French Wiktionary says of fr:tête-bêche: adverb, "said of two people (or by extension, two objects) that are laid out in the opposite direction from one another, the feet of one being even with the head of the other." —Stephen 21:24, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. It seems a little long, but no one was taken with my "alternatingly" sense. DCDuring TALK 22:49, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

RFV failed, sense removed. —RuakhTALK 19:26, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Return to "tête-bêche" page.