Meaning of TURN in English


I. ˈtərn, ˈtə̄n, ˈtəin transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English turnen; partly from Old English tyrnan & turnian to turn, from Medieval Latin tornare, from Latin, to turn on a lathe, round off, from tornus lathe, chisel, from Greek tornos dividers, lathe; partly from Old French torner, tourner, from Medieval Latin tornare; akin to Latin terere to rub — more at throw


a. : to cause to move in a curved especially circular path around or as if around an axis or a center : make rotate or revolve

turn a wheel

turn a crank

great wheel turns its axle when it can — Theodore Roethke

shaft … can be turned … at higher than 50,000 revolutions per minute — Ford Times

how that little scrapper could hold and turn a miner's drill — N.C.Wilson


(1) : to cause to move around in such a path far enough or enough times to effect a desired end (as of locking, opening, or shutting)

turn a key in a lock

turned the knob till the door opened

turn a screw tight

shut the door and turned the bolt — Paul Horgan

turn the cap to release it

turned the handle to the shut position

(2) : to affect or alter the functioning of (as a mechanical device) by or as if by operation of a control moving in this way

turned the lamp as low as it would go

turned the heating pad too high

turned the steam iron to rayon

c. : to execute or perform by rotating or revolving like a rolling wheel

turn a double somersault

turn handsprings

or like a spinning top

turns a clumsy pirouette — G.C.Menotti

d. : to twist to one side or out of line or shape : wrench

so easy … to plant a swift blow, to turn a fragile wrist — H.A.Overstreet

stumbled along, turning his ankle at frequent intervals — Peggy Bennett



(1) : to cause to change position, posture, or part exposed by moving through an arc of a circle

nurse could easily turn a patient twice her size

leaned out, and turned his heavy shoulders … around to gaze up into the dark night — Glenway Wescott

kept turning his hat in his hands

turned his chair to the fire

(2) : to cause to move around a center so as to see or to show another side or angle

turning the pages of the book

specifically : to turn the leaves of (a book) : read or search through

(3) : to cause (as the beam or platform of a scale) to move up or down : cause to register weight

turned the scale at 160 pounds

(4) : to cause to move or stir in any way

a fate she did not turn a finger to escape — V.L.Parrington

b. : to revolve mentally : consider and reconsider in various aspects or from several points of view : think over : ponder

turned the question every which way but could find no answer

was still turning the idea about when he fell asleep

— usually used with over

turning the scenes and characters over in his mind — Ernest Newman

appeared to be turning something over in his mind — Douglas Stewart

disturbing thought … persisted. He turned it over continuously as he rode — T.B.Costain


a. : to reverse the position of (as by making the uppermost side or part the undermost, or the outermost side or part the innermost, or the front the back) : reverse the sides or surfaces of : invert

turn an hourglass

turn pancakes

turn a phonograph record

coat can be turned and worn either side out

turn 4 thin veal fillets in 1 oz. seasoned flour — Modern Woman

turned the rug frequently to equalize wear

(1) : to dig or plow so as to invert the turf or bring the lower soil to the surface

soil should be turned after the harvest

was eager to get home and begin turning his ground — G.S.Perry

sod … almost had to be turned by main strength, piece by piece — O.E.Rölvaag

(2) : to make (as a garment) over by unpicking the stitching, reversing the material, and resewing

turn a dress

turn a collar

(3) : to invert feet up and face down (as a character, rule, or slug) in setting type (as in place of a letter or matter temporarily unavailable or to draw attention to a change to be made)

b. : to reverse or upset the order or disposition of : change drastically the arrangement of things in

found everything turned topsy-turvy

robbers had turned the room upside down

in adapting the novel … have turned the story on its head — Arthur Knight


(1) : to disturb or upset the mental balance of : derange , unsettle

thwarted affections had turned her brain — Kathleen Freeman

a mind turned by grief

(2) : to affect the power of judgment of (as by causing to become infatuated or to harbor extravagant notions of pride or conceit) — used chiefly in the phrase turn one's head

success had not turned his head

silly girl's head had been turned by a handful of compliments

d. : to cause (the stomach) to revolt (as at something swallowed) : upset

very thought of food turned his stomach

e. : to set in another especially contrary direction

turned his horse and rode away

hard car to turn in a narrow street


a. : to cause to have or take another path or direction : bend or change the course of

turn the channel of a stream

saddle stock spooked and I had to run them two miles to turn them — Bruce Siberts & W.D.Wyman

turn a car into a stream of traffic


(1) : to reverse the course or direction of : make go back

captured cart was turned and rumbled past — F.V.W.Mason

series of revolts which was definitely to turn the tide against reaction — C.L.Jones

(2) : to cause to retreat

police used fire hoses and tear gas to turn the mob

(3) : to check the course of (as by interposing an obstacle) : make go back or go aside : keep out or off

wires are close enough together … to turn hogs and sheep — Fence

struck like a club in the dark … not to be turned by any plea — R.O.Bowen

(4) : to cause (a ball) to break — used of a cricket bowler

flights the ball well, turns it markedly any way — Sunday Express (Johannesburg) South Africa


(1) : to alter the drift, tendency, or natural or expected result of (as a course of thought, action, or progress)

alliance … led directly to war, and turned the course of history — L.L.Snyder

is not facts … but what people think about the facts that turns elections — Times Literary Supplement

turned the talk to baseball

(2) : to divert especially from a course of action, an intention, an attitude

would not be turned from his life of senseless pleasure

a plea that would have turned a heart of stone


(1) : to change direction by bending a course around or about : take a usually circular or elliptical path around : round

turned the corner at full speed

watched the leading boat turn the first marker

(2) : to get around in this way : get to the other side of

ship had turned the cape and was now homeward bound

a play designed to turn the end of the defensive line

was so intent on surprising the enemy … that his right flank was turned, and he suffered … a crushing defeat — R.L.Conolly

d. : to pass or go beyond (as an amount)

was waiting for the clock to turn ten

turned seventeen the day he graduated

this robust man, just turned fifty, died of cerebral hemorrhage — Padraic Colum

turned of seventy years, he had withdrawn from active business — F.L.Paxson



(1) : to direct or point (as a glance) in a specified way

had turned his face from the curious onlookers

turned a pair of stricken eyes on his mother — T.B.Costain

turning more and more hostile looks in her direction — Charles Lee

will find anxious eyes all over the town turned toward the dropping mercury — Judson Philips

(2) : to present by or as if by a change in direction or position

turn the cheek even to the smiter's hand — P.B.Shelley

apologized for turning his back to his guests

face she turned to the world was always serene

cattle had turned tail to the storm — F.B.Gipson

the novel, a powerful modern agency for civilization … must turn to the light many ugly realities — Carl Van Doren

always turned his left profile to the cameras

(3) : to change the direction of (as the face) : direct another way or various ways

stood alone in the open doorway turning his eyes speculatively

often : to cause to be directed away or aside

turned her face and wept

staring match to see who would first turn his eyes

(4) archaic : to cause (as oneself) to face or go another way or a specified way

b. : to bring to bear by moving, aiming, pointing, or focusing especially from a point of rest : train

turned his light into the dark doorway

— usually used with on or upon

turned the binoculars on those retreating backs — Maurice Duggan

cannon were turned on the city and street fighting broke out — C.L.Jones

had been vaguely turning his torch on the number plates of a short line of cars — Elizabeth Bowen

turned his cameras directly upon the violence and brutality of life — Arthur Knight

bring them into his study and turn upon them the light of his critical analysis — V.L.Parrington


(1) : to direct (as the mind) toward or away from something

turn his thoughts to home

recording companies must turn their attention … to other kinds of music — P.H.Lang

was free to turn his whole mind and will to work — Carl Van Doren

urging him to turn his thoughts towards religion — R.A.Hall b. 1911

sought to turn man's curious mind from this world to the next — Marjory S. Douglas

turn public attention to the fascinating underworld of the unconscious — C.I.Glicksberg

cool evenings and heavy dews that turn the mind toward sweaters — Virgil Thomson

(2) archaic : to direct (oneself) toward or away from a concern with someone or something


(1) obsolete : to lead or bring (a person) to or into some state or situation by influencing or causing to become involved

all the trouble thou hast turned me to — Shakespeare

(2) : to induce or influence (a person) to change his way of life (as from ungodly to godly or from one religious faith to another)

a popish place like that! They'll turn her … sure as death and taxes — Angus Mowat

(3) archaic : to direct the course of (as a series of events)

Apollo turn all to the best — Shakespeare


(1) : to direct the employment of (as to some use or purpose) : make use of : apply , devote — used with to

turn anthropological knowledge to practical uses — Ralph Linton

studying how they could best turn to their own benefit the doctrines they found — F.L.Paxson

turned misfortune to good account — Sir Winston Churchill

turns her compassion to finding ways in which she and her staff can help — Lamp

sawmill and gristmill were erected … and a soda spring nearby turned to the use of the Saints — R.A.Billington

(2) : to make use of (as a person) for or in the accomplishment of a purpose

turned every available workman on the unexpected order

turned all hands onto the job of cleaning up


(1) : to direct or bring to bear in opposition especially by reversing the use or application of something : cause to rebound or recoil

tests the Communists' underlying contention … and turns their argument against them — Arthur Knight

secured or collected Japanese swords, then turned them upon their former owners — R.W.Thorp

(2) : to lead or cause to dislike : make antagonistic : prejudice — used with against

turn a child against its mother

campaign to turn the people against their leaders

had an arrogant manner that turned many against him


(1) : to cause to go or move in a particular direction

turned his steps homeward

(2) : to make go or move elsewhere : drive , send

turn cows to pasture

farmers round about turn into these woods their young cattle — John Burroughs

turned the cat into the cellar for the night

especially : to send or order away

officers were turned adrift by the mutineers

— usually used with away, from, off, out of

kind of man who would turn a homeless child from his door

turned his wayward son out of his house

no deserving person is ever turned away from that mission

kept busy turning hunters off his land

(3) : to convey or direct into or out of a receptacle by turning (as by inverting a container or operating a cock or faucet)

don't need a recipe — just turn the meat into a pot, heat, and serve

mixture was turned into a baking tin and popped into a preheated oven

asked by the police to turn the contents of her handbag out onto the table



(1) archaic : to change the nature or appearance of : metamorphose , transmute

(2) : to make acid or sour : curdle , ferment

hot weather may turn milk

(3) : to change the color of (as foliage)


(1) : to cause to become something specified : convert , transform — used with into or to

giant elms that turn those streets into great cathedrals in summer — Maxwell Mays

turned an almost impossible challenge into a remarkable personal triumph — C.H.Driver

had turned disappointment into contentment and failure into success — Ellen Glasgow

would turn their ancient town into just another dormitory-suburb — Sam Pollock

device that turns the sun's light directly into electricity — E.C.Bullard

tries to turn every contact into a vote — R.L.Duffus

gadget that was going to turn us all into a nation of gawking illiterates — R.M.Yoder

claim the desert can be turned to farmland — Newsweek

cannot leave his comedy turned to sadness by the sentencing of the youths — K.F.Thompson

(2) : to render in another language or another form of expression : translate , paraphrase — usually used with into

beautifully sculptured French has been turned into equally impressive English — Times Literary Supplement

selected a group of translators … to turn into Latin a considerable number of important Greek books — G.C.Sellery

struggled to turn Indian legends and colonial tales into verse — Howard M. Jones

also : to phrase differently : give a different cast or form to

c. : to cause to become of a specified nature or appearance — used with into or to

turns the marble pillars above into a dusky silver

salt air of the Cape is said to turn the shingles on roofs and walls to a distinctive gray — Jackson Rivers

wondered if the contortionist would be able to turn himself into his right shape again

d. : to exchange for something else : dispose of by exchanging for an equivalent

turned his stocks and bonds into cash

turn a pocketful of coins into paper money

e. : to change (as a person) so as to make different in a specified way : affect so as to cause a specified reaction

starvation, thirst, heat and chills turn them mad or sullen — Charles Lee

turns your tongue black if you drink too much of it — R.H.Newman

last year's drought turned things worse — Christian Science Monitor

improvements turned them obsolete — Roger Burlingame

if the resulting bungles … do not turn the cold war hot — Times Literary Supplement

f. : to cause to be regarded in a particular way : make the subject (as of ridicule) — used especially in the phrase turn to ridicule

humiliates him by patronizing him and turns to ridicule his abilities and ambitions — Edmund Wilson


a. : to shape or fashion especially in a rounded form by applying a cutting tool while revolving in a lathe : form in a lathe

turn a set of table legs

craftsmen turning small ivory figurines

most effective cutting rate in relation to the material being turned — Industrial Improvement

b. : to give a rounded form to by any means (as carving or molding)

showed him how to turn the volute of a capital — Van Wyck Brooks


(1) archaic : to cause (as an arch) to be built : construct

(2) : to cut off the rind or skin of (as an orange) in a narrow spiral strip : remove the stone from (as an olive) by paring off the flesh in such a strip

(3) : to make a curved section in (a piece of needlework) ; specifically : to perform the operations necessary to make the curved form of (a heel of a stocking)

looking down at her as she sat turning a heel — J.M.Barrie


(1) : to shape or mold artistically, gracefully, or neatly especially in curved or rounded form as if on a lathe

girl with magnificently turned ankles — New Yorker

a long nyloned leg, a trifle thin but well turned — Earle Birney

(2) : to fashion skillfully (as a piece of literary work)

really knows how to turn a sentence

has a knack for turning a phrase — W.O.Douglas

man's obviously literate, can turn neat and precise phrases — Rex Ingamells

slick, quick, well turned plays — H.A.L.Craig

speaks rather elegant and carefully turned English — Winthrop Sargent

a gentle squib of beautifully turned parody — Britain Today

sometimes : to execute skillfully

performances are … well turned — Edward Sackville-West & Desmond Shawe-Taylor

d. obsolete : to equip specially by nature : adapt , fit

by nature turned to play the rake — Jonathan Swift

8. : to make a fold, crook, bend, or curve in by or as if by pressure: as

a. obsolete : fold

b. obsolete : plait

c. : to bend or twist so as to encircle

creepers turned their tendrils about a picket fence

had a snake turned round his arm

d. : to form by bending

turn a lead pipe

tubing had been turned in a U-shaped curve


(1) : to cause (the edge of a blade) to bend back or over : cause to give by meeting resistance (as from a hard surface)

even ordinary slicing tends to turn a fine edge — L.D.Bement

: blunt , dull

if skins are too thick, they are reduced … with a moon knife with a turned edge — H.R.Procter

thinks the edge of this objection can be turned — R.J.Spilsbury

(2) : to dull or soften (as the power to cut or penetrate) in something that is done or expressed — used chiefly in the phrase turn the edge of or sometimes turn the point of

spoke slowly and softly with a smile that did little to turn the edge of his attack

this … approach … turns the edge of certain hostile criticisms — Journal of Philosophy


a. : to keep (as money) moving, circulating, or passing in trade ; specifically : to dispose of (a stock) so as to make room for another

pushcart vendor of oranges may turn his stock every day — J.W.Wingate

b. : to make or gain chiefly by buying or selling or performing work or services)

were not able to turn a penny in the present market

scheme to sell tea cheaply to the colonies and turn a quick penny at the same time — James Street

known to be turning a profit this year — Doyle Smee

doing odd jobs to turn an honest penny — John Dos Passos

tricks … by which a more or less dishonest dollar can be turned — V.O.Key

I. ˈtərn, ˈtə̄n, ˈtəin intransitive verb


a. : to move around on an axis or about a center : move in circles or through an arc of a circle : revolve or rotate as a wheel does : wheel or whirl around

wheel turned rapidly

gate creaked as it turned on its hinges

heavens … turn in silence round the pole — A.E.Housman

key would not turn in the lock

meat was turning on the spit

b. of the head or brain : to have a sensation of whirling : become giddy or dizzy : reel

I'll look no more lest my brain turn — Shakespeare

hated heights; they always made his head turn


(1) : to have as a decisive factor : hinge — usually used with on or upon

problems will rarely turn on simple questions of right or wrong — H.G.Rickover

the second act … the one upon which the whole work turns — Virgil Thomson

the trouble turned substantially on the failure … to consult and inform our allies — New Republic

guilt or innocence … turns on the identification of the weapon — Irish Digest

argument turns upon a point not of ethics but logic — Gail Kennedy

(2) : to have a center (as of interest) in something specified : concentrate attention : relate principally — used with around or about

social activity turned largely around official and church activities — C.L.Jones

story turns about a tormented passion felt by a dying young girl — Charles Lee

or with on or upon

discussion turned solely upon the feasibility of the scheme

differences of opinion have turned mainly upon … how the success in Vienna can be turned to advantage here — J.E.Williams


a. : to shift one's position as if by moving on an axis or through the arc of a circle

suffer with cramps in the muscles … when they turn or stretch — Morris Fishbein

had lain twisting and turning as he bemoaned their fate — O.E.Rölvaag

turned on his side

tossed and turned, sighing and groaning — Kenneth Roberts

enough to make a person turn in his grave

b. : to move in a circular course or as if on an axis so as to face in various directions or in the opposite direction

cabin was so small that a dog could hardly turn in it — Tobias Smollett

can turn on a dime for repeated depth-charge attacks — J.C.Furnas

turned on his heel and walked away

boat could turn in its own length

c. : to incline from a horizontal position (as up or down from a point of rest) — used of a scale or balance

d. : to come by turning the leaves of a book

turn ahead to the third chapter

one can only leaf through the pictures or turn to a list at the end of the book — Jane G. Mahler


a. : to direct one's course

was completely lost, hadn't the faintest idea which way to turn

was content to go whichever way his feet turned

they turned into a street in which there was considerable activity — Irwin Shaw


(1) : to reverse a course or direction : go backward or in the opposite direction : become reversed

market turned sharply in the afternoon

nervous footpad turned and fled

luck turned and he went broke

specifically : to change from ebb to flow or flow to ebb

you should start half an hour to an hour before the tide turns — Peter Heaton

(2) : to have a reactive usually adverse effect : recoil

the … advantage — the buoyancy and liveliness of their lightly loaded craft — abruptly turned against them — Walter O'Meara

c. : to change one's course : take a different course or direction

turned toward home

turn to the left at the foot of the hill

turned from the road into a tree-shaded lane

rabbit ran out and turned along the hedge — Adrian Bell

surge which had traveled southwards along our east coast later turned and moved northwards — J.A.Steers

economy has begun to turn downward — L.H.Keyserling

corporate profits are turning upward — Newsweek


(1) : to execute or perform any of various maneuvers or procedures for changing course or direction (as of a ship or a fleet, a body of troops, a swimmer, skater, skier, or dancer) ; specifically : to change direction by tacking

(2) : to walk here and there : take a turn — used with about

was at home in the country … turning about his grounds, sauntering by a brookside — Van Wyck Brooks

(3) of the wind : to blow from a different quarter : shift

in the afternoon the wind turned into the east — Kenneth Roberts

the wind turned and the sky cleared

(4) : break 5b(1)

d. : to change direction at, along, or by means of a bend or curve

main road turns sharp right at the fork

highway turns gradually away from the river

river did indeed finally turn to the left — Tom Marvel

long hall runs the length of the building without turning


a. : to change position so as to face or be directed another way

everywhere the eye turns … it encounters propaganda — New York Times Magazine

often : to move one's head or body so as to face in another direction or to see something behind or to one side : face about

heard his name called but did not turn

astonished dignitaries were turning to stare at him — Al Hine & J.P.O'Neill

b. : to change position so as to face toward or away from someone or something

however one turns, one cannot evade the truth — R.M.Weaver

turn from a gruesome sight

turned expectantly toward the door

had taken fright at our behavior and turned to the captain pitifully — Joseph Conrad

c. : to change one's position or attitude or reverse one's course of action to one of opposition or hostility:

(1) : to change from submission or friendliness to resistance or opposition

even a worm will turn

— usually used with against

felt that the whole world had suddenly turned against him

even the younger men had turned against me — W.B.Yeats

(2) : to vent anger or resentment — used with on or upon

turned upon them with a ferocity which made a savage of him on the spot — Virginia Woolf

must come up with solutions or his party will be quick to turn on him — New Republic

(3) : make a sudden violent assault

bulls often turned on the wounded, and the hunter could thus induce a fight — C.D.Forde

dog had suddenly and for no apparent reason turned on his master


a. : to direct one's attention or thoughts to or away from someone or something

men have turned from the discussion of universals — H.O.Taylor

turns away in this book from his previous shock-treatment style of writing — Henry Cavendish

played for society dances before turning to the blues — Hubert Creekmore

former has turned to religion while the latter is still trying to live with uncertainty — Granville Hicks

also : to find itself directed in this way

riding to Canterbury, his mind naturally turned to church history — S.M.Crothers

the thoughts of pioneers turned to self-government — R.A.Billington

English prose turned to the sea in the early eighteenth century — W.P.Webb


(1) : to change one's way of life or thought by being converted to religion or a godly life

turn to God

disciples must turn , i.e. change their dispositions and habits — Interpreter's Bible

specifically : to change one's religion especially as between Roman Catholic or Protestant

he's a Catholic and I'm going to turn — Victoria Lincoln

feeling … that you've been praying for me to turn — Ruth Park

(2) : to go over to another side or party especially by deserting or revolting : defect

c. : to address oneself or direct one's attention to another subject : concern oneself with something different

let us turn now from mechanics to medicine — Benjamin Farrington

now let us turn to the United States and its theater — Marc Connelly

kept wishing the speaker would turn to something less gloomy

also : to come in its course : move on

talk, by some odd chance, had turned to the value of reticence in art — Thomas Wood †1950

one evening over a cocktail the conversation turned to trout — Alexander MacDonald

d. : to betake oneself (as for information, help, or support) : have recourse — used with to

for the historical presentation of contemporary literature one must turn to … foreign critics — F.B.Millett

: refer

the book to which one turns inevitably for information on whaling — Hal Nielson

book … that can be turned to again and again — Arthur Knight

: resort

government is not likely to turn to private sources for dollars at higher rates of interest — J.C.Harsch

for relaxation he turns to tennis — Current Biography

painful illness led him to turn to drugs

employers turned to the regions where cheap labor was to be found — Oscar Handlin

few experts … to whom it could turn for knowledge and counsel — Kiewiet

a man to turn to in time of need

e. : to direct one's efforts or interests : devote or apply oneself

fewer studying medicine and more turning to agriculture and dairy science — Irish Digest

came out of the army with nothing in mind to turn to

turned to the study of the law with enthusiasm


a. : to become changed, altered, or transformed (as in nature, character, or appearance): as

(1) archaic : to become different

(2) : to change color — used especially of leaves

by the first of October most of the leaves have turned — W.H.Upson

hickories were turning slowly and here and there the boughs were brushed with wine-color — Ellen Glasgow

(3) : to become sour, rancid, or tainted

found that the milk had turned

(4) : to be variable or inconstant

(5) : to become mentally unbalanced : become deranged


(1) : to become transformed or converted into something else (as by receiving a new character or new properties) : pass from one state to another : change — used with into or to

water had turned to ice

passive neglect turned into active antagonism — G.G.Coulton

went away a fledgling and he has turned into a man — Louis Bromfield

friendship … turns into conflict, and in the end a formal duel is held — R.A.Hall b. 1911

puzzled look … turned quickly to one of understanding — T.B.Costain

no clear dividing line between fluids and jellies … one may turn readily into the other — New Biology

(2) : to become changed so as to be of a specified nature : change to : grow

hair had turned gray

face turned white

milk turned sour

animal turned nasty

weather turned bad

voice turned shrill

cautious ones turned moderately optimistic — Biddle Survey

country turned thin and poor, with great patches of naked ground — H.L.Davis

(3) : to become someone or something specified by change from another state : come to be

turn state's evidence

both poets in the end turned men of action — Osbert Sitwell

dancing-school teacher who turns call girl — Anthony Boucher

in Latin America physicians frequently turn author and statesman — Americas

wartime diary of a journalist turned lieutenant commander — A.A.Ageton

walls rise sheer around the courtyard turned theater — Claudia Cassidy

picture themselves turning explorer and going home down the Amazon — Geographical Journal

7. : to become curved or bent (as from pressure) ; especially : to become blunted by bending

the knife's edge had turned

8. : to become upset : become nauseated — used of the stomach


a. : to operate a lathe

b. : to admit of fashioning on a lathe

beech is largely used … since it turns easily in the lathe — F.D.Smith & Barbara Wilcox

ivory turns well

10. of merchandise : to become stocked and disposed of : turn over : change hands

11. of a goat : to come in heat again after service by a buck


revolve , rotate , gyrate , circle , spin , twirl , whirl , wheel , eddy , swirl , pirouette : turn is a general rather colorless word interchangeable with most of the others in their less specific uses. revolve may suggest regular circular motion on an orbit around something exterior to the item in question; it may refer to the dependence of the less important, the secondary, on something cardinal or pivotal which resolves or determines

though local questions, such as the State Bank and state aid to railroads, gave rise to sharp contests, politics usually revolved around national questions — A.B.Moore

everything in that house revolved upon Aunt Mary — Margaret Deland

rotate is likely to suggest a circular motion on an interior axis within the thing under consideration which may be not moving otherwise

the earth rotates on its axis while it revolves on its orbit

gyrate may suggest the regularity of revolve but it is likely to be used to indicate a fluctuating or swinging back and forth which describes circular or spiral patterns

stocks gyrated dizzily on uncertainty over the foreign situation — Wall Street Journal

a low cloud of dust raised by the dog gyrating madly about — Joseph Conrad

circle may simply indicate a movement around in a more or less circular pattern, or it may indicate any lack of straight directness in a winding course

a flock of black ibises circled high overhead wheeling endlessly on the ascending air currents — Dillon Ripley

the essayist's licence to circle and meander — Virginia Woolf

spin indicates rapid sustained rotation on an inner axis or fast circling around an exterior point

he who but ventures into the outer circle of the whirlpool is spinning, ere he has time for thought in its dizzy vortex — Bayard Taylor

twirl adds to the ideas of spin those of dexterity, lightness, or easy grace

this … book … I toss i' the air, and catch again, and twirl about — Robert Browning

whirl stresses force, power, speed, and impetus of rotary or circular motion

and collections of opaque particles whirled to shore by the eddies — William Bartram

the withered leaves had gathered violence in pursuit, and were whirling after her like a bevy of witches — Ellen Glasgow

wheel may suggest either going in a circular or twisted course or turning on an arc or curve to a new course

a familiar sight is the turkey vulture wheeling against the skies to the north — American Guide Series: Arizona

she had crossed the threshold to the porch, when, wheeling abruptly, she went back into the hall — Ellen Glasgow

eddy suggests the circular movement, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, of an eddy; it may be used in situations involving indirection, futility, or isolation from main currents

as the smoke slowly eddied away — Stephen Crane

the dead leaves which eddied slowly down through the windless calm — Rebecca West

waves of friends and reporters eddied through the apartment — Time

swirl suggests more rapidity, flow, or graceful attractiveness than eddy

further than ever comet flared or vagrant star-dust swirled — Rudyard Kipling

the black water was running like a millrace and raising a turbulent coil as it swirled and tossed over the ugly heads of jutting rocks — T.B.Costain

her dark hair swirled about her face — Helen Howe

pirouette suggests the light graceful turning of a ballet dancer

ashes pirouetted down, coquetting with young beeches — Alfred Tennyson

Synonym: see in addition depend .


divert , deflect , avert , sheer : turn is comprehensive in its scope and devoid of specific connotation; it could be used in any of the citations in the following, although with some loss of force and distinctness. divert stresses the idea of turning a thing or a person from a natural, expected course, way, or pattern into another

vast quantities of water can be diverted from one to the other watershed with very little engineering work — B.K.Sandwell

the machinery of our economic life has been diverted from peace to war — Clement Attlee

deflect is more likely to be used in reference to bouncing, refraction, or ricochet from a straight course or fixed direction

when they were fired at a thin film of metal, the majority passed through without being substantially deflected from their courses — James Jeans

In more figurative uses, it implies a turning, refracting, or deviating from a clearly evident course, direction, or pattern

he underwent all those things — but none of them deflected his purpose — Hilaire Belloc

after all, she had perhaps purposely deflected the conversation from her own affairs — Edith Wharton

the spirit … of the Romance tongues deflecting it from classical constructions — H.O.Taylor

avert implies no particular previously set course or pattern but usually indicates either a turning away of one's eyes, attention, or the like from the unpleasant or a turning of the course of exterior developments to avoid the dangerous or unpleasant

tried unsuccessfully to avert her horrified eyes from the sight

Athenian statesmen averted a social revolution by successfully carrying through an economic and political revolution — A.J.Toynbee

sheer , orig. nautical, is likely to involve a sharp turning or veering, as of a ship, or, in more figurative use, a sharply sudden divergence from a path or course previously followed

a griffon, wheeling here and there about, kept reconnoitring us … till he sheered off — John Keats

- turn a blind eye

- turn a cold shoulder to

- turn a deaf ear

- turn a flange

- turn a hair

- turn around one's finger

- turn color

- turn edge

- turn flukes

- turn loose

- turn one's back on

- turn one's coat

- turn one's hand

- turn one's stomach

- turn over a new leaf

- turn tail

- turn the other cheek

- turn the scale

- turn the tables

- turn the trick

- turn thumbs down

- turn to windward

- turn turtle

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English; partly from Old French tor, tour, torn, tourn lathe, circuit, turn (partly from Latin tornus lathe; partly from Old French torner, tourner to turn); partly from Middle English turnen, v.


a. : the action or an act of turning or moving about or as if about a center or axis : revolution , rotation

turn is the motion employed to turn the hand either empty or loaded by movement that rotates the hand, wrist, and forearm about the long axis of the forearm — Methods-Time Measurement

knowledge and entertainment are brought with the turn of a dial — Girl Scout Handbk.

almost any turn of the kaleidoscope of nature may set up in the artist this … vision — Roger Fry

b. : a single revolution or turning motion

twists and turns of the head

each turn of the wheels brought them nearer home

only three turns of the moon — Virginia Woolf

grand old leaps and turns of the imperial ballet discipline — Time


(1) : any of various rotating or pivoting movements in dancing whether executed singly or in couples — see circle turn , open turn , reverse turn , rock turn

(2) : a revolution by a gymnast of less than a circle around a bar


a. : the action or an act of giving or taking a direction or a different direction : change of course or posture

forgot to make the usual turn at the corner

illegal left turn

gentle turns may be performed by rudder alone — R.P.Holland

controls had jammed in a turn — Phil Gustafson


(1) : a drill maneuver in which troops in mass formation change direction without preserving alignment and which is executed by the pivot file facing in the new direction and marching at the half step until the others move up and place themselves in succession on the new line — compare wheel

(2) : a change of course by a ship in formation or a simultaneous change of course by the ships of a unit

(3) : any of various shifts of direction in skiing — see christiania , jump turn , kick turn , snowplow turn , stem christiania , stem turn , step turn , telemark

(4) : an interruption of a curve in figure skating

b. : the action or an act of turning aside (as from a straight course, a normal development, or a manifest trend) : deflection , deviation

gave the story so many twists and turns the reader becomes lost


(1) : a sudden change of not less than a right angle in direction made by the quarry in coursing when hotly pursued

hound gave the hare a turn

(2) : break 4c(6)

(3) : a forward stroke in cricket made with the face of the bat at an angle that sends the ball to the on side

would open his account with a turn to the one side, generally forward of square leg — Calling All Cricketers

c. : the action or an act of turning so as to face or move in the opposite direction : reversal of posture or course

an about turn

wait for the turn of the tide

sales have never been higher at this season — and there are few signs of a turn — Nation's Business


(1) : a complete reversal of direction in a swimming race

(2) : a complete reversal of a skate in figure skating

d. : a change effected by turning over to another side or face about

lost a fortune on one turn of the cards

e. : a place at which something turns, turns off, or turns back : point or part at or along which a change of course or direction takes place : angle , bend , curve

stopped at a turn in the road

river has many turns

couldn't get the piano around the turn in the hallway

swept around a turn of the trees, down the nearest avenue toward us — B.T.Cleeve


(1) dialect England : a pit sunk in some part of a drift in lead mining

(2) : a curved part of a running track or racetrack

took the lead on the run to the clubhouse turn — New York Times

too big to move easily around the turns — Albion Hughes

(3) : the point on a golf course at which the return journey is begun : end of the first nine holes or start of the last nine holes

was three up at the turn

made the turn in 35 — New York Times

(4) : a point of junction between two curves in figure skating



(1) obsolete : journey , tour , trip

(2) : tourn


(1) : the action or an act of walking especially briefly around or out and back

usually took a turn around the block before going to bed

going to have a turn under the stars before I follow you — Agnes S. Turnbull

took a short turn through the garden — to the row of tamarisk trees and back — Willa Cather

so incurably soft as not to be able to face a gentle turn round an ordinary suburban garden — Osbert Lancaster

(2) : a short trip (as a walk, ride, drive) out and back or round about

had enough gas for a half hour's turn in the park

studied navigation — why, if I had taken one turn down the harbor I should have known more about it — H.D.Thoreau

c. chiefly dialect : a single trip and return (as by a team in hauling logs)


a. : a movement by a wrestler intended to throw his opponent

b. archaic : artifice , stratagem , trick , wile

beheld in either field a farmer at work and proposed to play the two a turn — Joseph Campbell


a. : an act or deed affecting another especially when performed out of the usual course : a usually incidental or unexpected act of service or disservice

one good turn deserves another

when you turned me out you did me the best turn you ever did me — W.S.Maugham

actually the worms do the cattle farmers a good turn — B.C.Cronwright

you've had a rotten deal … The man … has done you a bad turn — Dorothy Sayers

b. chiefly Scotland : a stroke of work : piece of work : job , task — compare hand's turn

6. : something that comes in its own due order or at often regular intervals: as

a. : a period of action or activity : go , spell

went on deck and took a turn at the wheel

a turn at the lathe in his cellar workshop — Otis Fellows

catch their breath between turns on the ice — H.W.Wind

enjoys spectator sports, bridge, and a turn on the dance floor — Current Biography

specifically : a bout of wrestling

b. : a place, time, or opportunity accorded an individual or unit of a series in simple succession or in or as if in a scheduled order

rooms were thoroughly cleaned each in its turn

was waiting his turn in a doctor's office

is pointed out to him that his turn will come — Richard Joseph

took our turn and did our bit — G.B.Shaw

class took turns expressing opinions — Eleanor S. Lowman

turn of the surrealists for market appreciation is probably next — J.T.Soby

often : a recurring chance or opportunity coming to each in alternation or succession (as in a game)

c. : a period during which one of a number of persons or groups successively employed is on duty : shift , tour

increases … to 6 cents from 4 cents on the afternoon turn — Wall Street Journal

will add a second turn employing another 1000 — Wall Street Journal

d. : a short act or piece of any kind especially in or for a variety show

announced each act and said a few words between turns — Pete Martin

can recall virtually every routine and turn he ever learned — R.B.Gehman

a song-and-dance turn

cabaret turns

chief turn consisted of four performing elephants — Osbert Sitwell

also : the performer of such an act

commended only one of the turns, a young man … who sang Danny Boy — Patrick Campbell


(1) : an event in any gambling game after which bets are settled — called also coup

(2) : the order of the last three cards in faro — used in the phrase call the turn

7. : something that revolves or that turns or moves around or as if around a center: as


(1) : lathe ; especially : a watchmaker's lathe

(2) chiefly dialect : spinning wheel

(3) : a catch or latch for a cupboard or cabinet door that is operated by turning a knob or handle


(1) : a musical ornament consisting of a group of four or more notes that wind about the principal or written note by including the notes next above and next below beginning either on the upper note or (as often in 19th century music) on the principal note

executes the turns with beautiful ease — Irving Kolodin

(2) : a sign indicating this musical ornament

8. : a special purpose, need, or requirement : convenience , exigency — used chiefly in the phrase serve one's turn

the philosophy that serves one's turn best — J.C.Powys

hoping … to exploit and then disown him after he had served their turn — Times Literary Supplement

9. obsolete : an event or course or series of events


a. : the action or an act of changing : alteration , modification

a nasty turn in the weather

tea too weak and not hot enough, and the milk verging to the turn — E.O.Schlunke

b. : a change in tendency, trend, or drift or in conditions, circumstances, or affairs

hoped for a turn in his luck

credit situation probably won't cause an adverse turn in the economy — M.S.Rukeyser

turn of fortune which made him a prisoner of war — G.F.Hudson

fairly sharp turns characterize British history — Current History

a turn for the better in the bitter labor-management feud — Mary K. Hammond

market for used cars took a definite turn for the worse — Leo Wolman

laughing up their sleeves at the turn of affairs — Edward Bok

c. : the time when something changes its direction or its course (as of development) or when a change in trend or circumstances takes place

the turn of the seasons — the low point between the end of the winter season and the pickup of the spring-summer boom — New York Times

decided to wait until the turn of the year

our literary taste at the turn of the century — M.D.Geismar

born just after the turn of the century

years at the turn of the twentieth century were vintage years — W.A.White

d. Britain : the middle price between a stock jobber's buying and selling prices : change in price


a. : distinctive quality or character

peculiar turn of the Greek genius — H.J.J.Winter

the turn and genius of our language — Thomas Gray


(1) : a turning or fashioning of language especially skillfully or for a special effect : arrangement of words

saw in the turn of her phrase an opportunity to exhibit a small verbal neatness — Dorothy C. Fisher

stylist … will appreciate the turn of the phrase — Gilbert Seldes

never at a loss for a turn of a phrase to illustrate a point — Harvey Graham

shocks us … by its Machiavellian turn of phrase — Béla Menczer

(2) : a particular form of expression or detail of style of discourse ; especially : a peculiarity of phrasing

some of the most felicitous turns of thought and phrase in poetry — J.L.Lowes

Scandinavian strain … is shown more clearly by turns of expression than by the forms of individual words — F.M.Steuton

altered his dress, his mannerisms, and his turns of speech — Geoffrey Gorer

studded with his special capering marks and turns of style — Richard Eberhart

uses many dialect turns — H.H.Reichard

even an advanced student misses idiomatic turns — Geoffrey Bullough

c. : the shape or mold in which something is fashioned

gown showed off the turn of her neck and shoulder

: cast

an unbelievably evil turn of countenance


a. : the state or manner of being coiled or twisted

spinning yarns … in various grades, sizes, and degrees of twist or turn — Whitlock Cordage

specifically : the distance along the axis of a rope in which a strand makes one spiral

b. : a single round (as of rope passed about an object or laid in a coil or of wire wound on the core of an induction coil), twist (as of the strands of a rope), or whorl (as of a convoluted form)

snail shell with seven turns

stove was cracked and held together with many turns of heavy wire — Brian Harwin

turns around the drum of the windlass began to slip — H.A.Chippendale

one turn of wire when carrying one ampere of current is known as one ampere turn — Irving Frazee

give a yarn ten turns of twist per inch of length — Werner Von Bergen & H.R.Mauersberger

the axial length of one complete turn or helix of a wire in a cable — L.F.Hickernell & A.A.Jones

c. : a coiling, twisting, or winding of one thing (as a cord, rope, or wire) about another

a turn is taken round the most convenient article that will take the strain — Fire Service Drill Book

13. : any of several measures of quantity (as for some commodities): as

a. : a varying measure for selling fish

b. : a load of wood ; especially : a number of logs hauled on one trip

c. : a bundle of 60 skins in the fur trade

d. chiefly dialect : a quantity of corn (as a sackful) taken to a mill at one time for grinding


a. : natural or special ability or aptitude : bent , inclination

renown … rests not on his geometry or his turn for affairs — Benjamin Farrington

a fellow with a real practical turn — O.W.Holmes †1894

a turn for logical presentation — Jane Addams

a pretty turn for anecdote — W.S.Gilbert

must possess … artistic sensibility and a turn for clear thinking — Clive Bell

— used especially in the phrase turn of mind

am of an optimistic turn of mind — G.P.Brockway

had a philosophic turn of mind — John Mason Brown

help to stimulate an inquiring turn of mind — Warwick Braithwaite

men of a speculative turn of mind — M.R.Cohen


(1) obsolete : a particular characteristic (as of a person) or a characteristic act

(2) dialect : disposition , personality


a. : direction of movement : drift , tendency , trend

the individuals who took a decisive part in them — who gave a turn to the events — Herbert Read

the oriental turn of seeking nirvana — Warren Weaver

provide a clue as to the turn of events a few seconds before they happen — Princess Indira

b. : a special twist, construction, or interpretation

gave the hoary old yarn a new turn

gave a native turn to the designs which they imitated — O. Elfrida Saunders


a. : a disordering spell or attack (as of illness, faintness, dizziness)

some turn of disease had begun to parade erotic images before his eyes — W.B.Yeats

a delicate man, who had survived, mother alone knows how many bad turns — Blanche E. Baughan

isn't a real snake on the carpet, it is only one of my turns — Margaret Macdonald

b. : a nervous start or shock (as from alarm, fright, or surprise)

gives one quite a turn to discover that one's husband is a murderer — Denis Johnston

had given me a turn … she was so close to the edge — Joseph Conrad

gave him a nasty turn , but he put on a bold front — W.S.Maugham

c. turns plural : menses


a. : a complete transaction involving a purchase and sale of securities or vice versa ; also : a profit from such a transaction

b. : turnover 8c

wash goods department may find that three turns a year are feasible — J.W.Wingate

18. : something turned or to be turned: as


(1) : a character or slug inverted in setting type

(2) : a piece of type placed bottom up or a character temporarily keyed (as by a Monotype operator) in place of another of the same width to be inserted later by hand ; also : the replacement of a turn by the proper character

turns have been made in most of the galleys

b. : turn shoe

- at every turn

- by turns

- in turn

- on the turn

- out of turn

- to a turn

III. ˈtərn, ˈtu̇rn intransitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: German turnen, from Old High German turnēn to turn (in general), from Medieval Latin tornare — more at turn I

: to practice or perform gymnastic exercises

V. transitive verb

1. : to engage in (an act of prostitution)

turn tricks

2. : to carry to completion

turned a double play

VI. noun

: performance 3a b

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.