The excessive use of the word ‘Revert’ in local context

When you see the word ‘Revert’, what is the first definition that comes to your mind? It is quite possibly different definitions, depending on where you are from, and what your profession is.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, ‘Revert’ basically means to return back to a previous or original state, be it chemically or conditionally. But the abuse of words just doesn’t warrant an arrest, neither is it chargeable in the court of law (unless it being a result of contractual breech or whatever).

So why am I saying this? Having worked for a decade or so (don’t ask me where), I have come across words in emails that absolutely made or broke my day. For example,


Is there any update on this issue we discussed last week?

Please revert.


Let us analyze this highlighted word in the above context. The sender was asking for an update for an issue that was raised a week ago. So I am supposed to reply with updates regarding the issue at hand. An update is a change of condition from a current state to a new or next state. So when this sender reiterates his/her intention with the word ‘Revert’, the whole condition changes. So instead of asking me for new information, he/she now wants me to go back to the original or a previous agreed update, from its current status. But is that his/her true intention? As it turns out, it was newer data that he/she requires, because he/she called me back immediately when I replied thus:

“Hi XX.

To answer your query in 2 conditions:

1) New update: Panel 2 requires a new set of drawings.

2) Reverted update: Panel 2 has a set of drawings in the 3rd revision. FD is using it to check the panel.

Please pick a choice and let me know what you require exactly.


Now this phenomenon is a rising trend in emails, especially profound in Singapore.  It is the wrong word to use when you are asking the other party to reply back to your enquiry, but perhaps the word ‘Revert’ makes the sender feels he/she is a well-learned or well-cultured individual. But it confuses me and everybody else who knows the meaning of the word ‘Revert’.

So just a gentle reminder to senders who may think that the word ‘Revert’ would give you a straight reply to your query, please stop using it! It is not going to give you an upper hand in your current state of situation, but you may create more confusion when you do not make your intentions clear. A rule of thumb: Use simple words to convey your intentions. You do not need to sound like an academic, and risk making an idiot of yourself.