Meaning of TURN in English


I. turn 1 S1 W1 /tɜːn $ tɜːrn/ BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ turn , ↑ upturn , ↑ turning ; verb : ↑ turn , ↑ overturn ; adjective : ↑ upturned ]

[ Date: 1000-1100 ; Origin: Partly from Latin tornare 'to turn on a lathe' , from turnus 'lathe' , from Greek tornos ; partly from Old French torner , tourner 'to turn' , from Latin tornare ]

1 . YOUR BODY [intransitive and transitive] to move your body so that you are looking in a different direction ⇨ twist :

Ricky turned and walked away.

She turned her head in surprise.

turn around/round/away

Dan turned away, hiding the fear in his eyes.

turn (your head/face) to do something

He turned around to look at Kim.

‘No,’ she said, turning her head to see David’s reaction.

Brigitte glared at him, turned on her heel (=turned away suddenly because of anger) , and stomped out of the room.

2 . OBJECT [transitive usually + adverb/preposition] to move something so that it is pointing or aiming in a different direction

turn something around/over/upside down etc

You may turn over your exam papers now.

turn something on something/somebody

The firemen turned their hoses on the blaze.

turn something to face something/somebody

Could you turn your chairs to face this way?

turn a/the page (=move a page in a book over so that you can read the next page)

turn something down/up

He turned down the corner of the sheet to peep at the baby.


a) [intransitive and transitive] to go in a new direction when you are walking, driving etc, or to make the vehicle you are using do this:

I watched until he turned the corner.

turn left/right

Turn left at the church.

turn into/onto/down etc

She cycled up the street and turned into Long Road.

Turning the car around, we headed home.

b) [intransitive] if a road, river etc turns, it curves and starts to go in a new direction:

Further on, the river turns east.

The road turns sharply at the top of the hill.

4 . MOVE AROUND CENTRAL POINT [intransitive and transitive] to move around a central or fixed point, or to make something move in this way:

The wheels turned slowly, then picked up speed.

For some reason, the key wouldn’t turn.

turn the handle/knob/key/tap etc

She gently turned the handle of the bedroom door.

5 . CHANGE [linking verb, transitive] to start to have a different quality, or to make something do this

turn (something) red/blue/white etc

Rose’s hair was already turning grey.

In October the leaves turn orange and yellow.

The sun had turned the sky a glowing pink.

the weather turns cold/nasty etc (also it turns cold/nasty etc)

Then it turned cold and started to rain.

turn nasty/mean/violent etc (=suddenly become angry, violent etc)

The police are worried that the situation could turn violent.

6 . ATTENTION/THOUGHTS [intransitive and transitive] to start to think about, deal with, look at etc a particular person, thing, or subject, instead of what you were thinking about etc before

turn your attention/thoughts/efforts etc to something/somebody

Many investors have turned their attention to opportunities abroad.

Phil turned his gaze towards the older man.

turn to/towards etc something

As usual, the conversation turned back to her children.

Now is the time of year when thoughts turn in the direction of summer holidays.

Next the Senator turned to education.

7 . turn your back (on somebody/something)

a) to refuse to help, support, or be involved with someone or something:

How can you turn your back on your own mother?

In his twenties he turned his back on his Catholic faith.

b) to turn so that your back is pointing towards someone or something, and you are not looking at them:

Angrily, she turned her back on him.

8 . AGE/TIME [transitive] to become a particular age, or to reach a particular time

somebody turns 15/20/40 etc

My son’s just turned 18.

it’s turned 2 o'clock/5/midday etc

It’s just turned three.

9 . turn something inside out

a) to pull a piece of clothing, bag etc so that the inside is facing out:

Turn the sweater inside out before you wash it.

b) ( also turn something upside down ) to search everywhere for something, in a way that makes a place very untidy:

Thieves had turned the house upside down.

c) ( also turn something upside down/turn something on its head ) to completely change the way that something is done, organized, thought about etc:

New approaches to marketing turn old practices upside down.

Her opinion of him had been turned on its head.

10 . have turned the corner to start to improve after going through a difficult period or experience:

The manager of the hotel chain claims that they have turned the corner.

11 . MAKE/LET GO OUT [transitive] to make or let someone or something go out from where they are

turn somebody/something out/outside/into etc (something)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.

There are some criminals who cannot be turned loose onto the streets.

12 . TIDE [intransitive] if the ↑ tide turns, the sea starts to come in or go out again

13 . CHANGE DEVELOPMENT [intransitive and transitive] if something such as a war, situation, game of sport etc turns, or someone turns it, something happens to change the way it is developing:

Mills turned the game by scoring twice.

The victory turned the tide of the war in North Africa.

14 . turn traitor to be disloyal to a person, group, or idea that you have strongly supported before

15 . turn your ankle to twist your ↑ ankle in a way that injures it SYN sprain :

Wright turned his ankle in the first minutes of the game.

16 . an actor turned politician/a housewife turned author etc someone who has done one job and then does something completely different ⇨ poacher turned gamekeeper at ↑ poacher

17 . turn sb’s head to be attractive in a romantic or sexual way:

She turned heads whenever she walked into a room.

18 . turn (people’s) heads if something turns people’s heads, they are surprised by it:

It did turn some heads when he moved back to the village.

19 . turn a profit American English to make a profit

20 . turn a phrase to say something in a particular way:

Cohen knows how to turn a phrase in his lyrics.

21 . LAND [transitive] to break up soil so that it is ready for growing crops:

a distant tractor turning the soil

22 . WOOD/METAL [transitive] to shape a wooden or metal object using a special tool

23 . MILK [intransitive] British English if milk turns, it becomes sour

⇨ turn a blind eye (to something) at ↑ blind 1 (3), ⇨ turn the other cheek at ↑ cheek 1 (4), ⇨ turn full circle at ↑ circle 1 (6), ⇨ somebody would turn in their grave at ↑ grave 1 (3), ⇨ not turn a hair at ↑ hair (11), ⇨ turn your hand to (doing) something at ↑ hand 1 (26), ⇨ turn over a new leaf at ↑ leaf 1 (3), ⇨ turn your nose up (at something) at ↑ nose 1 (5), ⇨ turn your stomach at ↑ stomach 1 (4), ⇨ turn the tables (on somebody) at ↑ table 1 (5), ⇨ turn tail at ↑ tail 1 (9)

• • •

THESAURUS (for Meaning 4)

▪ turn to move around a central or fixed point:

The wheels of the train began to turn.

▪ go around ( also go round British English ) to turn around a central point. Go around is a little more informal than turn and is very common in everyday English:

When the fan goes around, the warm air is pushed back downwards.

▪ revolve/rotate to turn around and around a central point. Rotate and revolve are more formal than turn and sound more technical:

The Earth rotates on its axis once every twenty-four hours.


The stage revolves at various points during the performance.

▪ spin to turn around many times very quickly:

The ice skater began to spin faster and faster.

▪ whirl /wɜːl $ wɜːrl/ to spin around extremely quickly, often in a powerful or uncontrolled way:

The blades of the helicopter whirled overhead.

▪ twirl (around) to spin around quickly, especially as part of a dance or performance:

The couples were twirling around on the dance floor.

▪ swirl (around) to move around quickly in a circular movement, especially when the movement goes outwards or upwards from the center:

Her white skirt swirled around her legs as she danced.


The leaves began to swirl around.

▪ spiral to move in a continuous curve that gets nearer to or further from its central point as it goes around:

The smoke spiralled toward the ceiling.

turn (somebody) against somebody/something phrasal verb

to stop liking or supporting someone or something, or to make someone do this:

Many people had turned against the war.

Dave felt she was deliberately turning the kids against him.

turn around ( also turn round British English ) phrasal verb

1 . if a business, department etc that is not successful turns around, or if someone turns it around, it starts to be successful:

The company turned around from losses of £1.4 million last year to profits of £26,800.

turn something ↔ around

At Rockwell International he had turned around a badly performing division.

⇨ ↑ turnaround

2 . if a situation, game etc turns around, or if someone turns it around, it changes and starts to develop in the way you want:

After I met him, my whole life turned around.

turn something ↔ around

Fender’s batting could turn matches around in half an hour.

3 . turn around and say/do etc something spoken to say or do something that is unexpected or that seems unfair or unreasonable:

You can’t just turn around and say that it was all my fault.

4 . turn something ↔ around to consider an idea, question etc in a different way, or change the words of something so that it has a different meaning:

Let’s turn the whole idea around and look at it from another angle.

5 . turn something ↔ around to complete the process of making a product or providing a service:

We can turn around 500 units by next week.

6 . every time somebody turns around spoken very often or all the time:

Every time I turn around he seems to be checking up on me.

turn away phrasal verb

1 . turn somebody ↔ away to refuse to let someone enter a place or join an organization, for example because it is full:

The show was so popular police had to turn people away.

Thousands of applicants are turned away each year.

2 . turn somebody ↔ away to refuse to give someone sympathy, help, or support:

Anyone who comes to us will not be turned away.

The insurance company has promised not to turn away its existing customers.

3 . turn (somebody) away from somebody/something to stop supporting someone, or stop using or being interested in something, or to make someone do this:

Consumers are turning away from credit cards.

events that turned Henry away from his family

turn back phrasal verb

1 . to go back in the direction you came from, or to make someone or something do this:

It’s getting late – maybe we should turn back.

turn somebody/something ↔ back

The UN convoy was turned back at the border.

2 . to return to doing something in the way it was done before

turn back to

The people are turning back to natural resources to survive.

We’ve promised to help, and there’s no turning back (=you cannot change this) !

⇨ turn back the clock at ↑ clock 1 (3)

turn somebody/something ↔ down phrasal verb

1 . to turn the switch on a machine such as an ↑ oven , radio etc so that it produces less heat, sound etc OPP turn up :

Can you turn the TV down? I’m trying to work.

2 . to refuse an offer, request, or invitation:

They offered her the job but she turned it down.

I’m not going to turn down an invitation to go to New York!

Josie’s already turned him down (=refused his offer of marriage) .

turn in phrasal verb

1 . turn something ↔ in to give something to a person in authority, especially an illegal weapon or something lost or stolen:

The rebels were told to turn in their weapons and ammunition.

turn something ↔ in to

My wallet was turned in to the police two days later.

2 . turn something ↔ in American English to give back something you have borrowed or rented SYN return :

When do the library books have to be turned in?

3 . turn in something to produce a particular profit, result etc:

Bimec turned in net profits of £2.4 million.

Last night the team turned in another dazzling performance.

4 . turn somebody ↔ in to tell the police who or where a criminal is:

Margrove’s wife finally turned him in.

5 . to go to bed:

I think I’ll turn in early tonight.

6 . turn something ↔ in American English to give a piece of work you have done to a teacher, your employer etc SYN hand in British English :

Have you all turned in your homework assignments?

turn (somebody/something) into something phrasal verb

1 . to become something different, or to make someone or something do this:

The sofa turns into a bed.

A few weeks later, winter had turned into spring.

Hollywood discovered her and turned her into a star.

2 . to change by magic from one thing into another, or to make something do this:

In a flash, the prince turned into a frog.

The witch had turned them all into stone.

3 . days turned into weeks/months turned into years etc used to say that time passed slowly while you waited for something to happen:

Weeks turned into months, and still there was no letter.

turn off phrasal verb

1 . turn something ↔ off to make a machine or piece of electrical equipment such as a television, engine, light etc stop operating by pushing a button, turning a key etc SYN switch off OPP turn on :

Don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave.

2 . turn something ↔ off to stop the supply of water, gas etc from flowing by turning a handle OPP turn on :

They’ve turned the gas off for a couple of hours.

3 . turn off (something) to leave the road you are travelling on and start travelling on another road

turn off (something) at/near etc

I think we should have turned off at the last exit.

turn off the road/motorway etc

Mark turned off the highway and into Provincetown.

⇨ ↑ turn-off

4 . turn somebody ↔ off to make someone decide they do not like something:

Any prospective buyer will be turned off by the sight of rotting wood.

⇨ ↑ turn-off

5 . turn somebody ↔ off to make someone feel that they are not attracted to you in a sexual way OPP turn on :

Men who stink of beer really turn me off.

⇨ ↑ turn-off

turn on phrasal verb

1 . turn something ↔ on to make a machine or piece of electrical equipment such as a television, engine, light etc start operating by pushing a button, turning a key etc SYN switch on OPP turn off :

Jake turned on his computer and checked his mail.

2 . turn something ↔ on to make the supply of water, gas etc start flowing from something by turning a handle OPP turn off :

He turned on the gas and lit the stove.

‘I’m thirsty,’ she said, turning on the tap.

3 . turn on somebody also turn upon somebody to suddenly attack someone, using physical violence or unpleasant words:

Peter turned on Rae and screamed, ‘Get out of my sight!’

4 . turn on something also turn upon something if a situation, event, argument etc turns on a particular thing or idea, it depends on that thing:

As usual, everything turned on how much money was available.

5 . turn somebody on to make someone feel sexually excited:

The way he looked at her really turned her on.

⇨ ↑ turn-on

6 . turn somebody on to interest someone, or to make someone become interested in something:

Science fiction just doesn’t turn me on.

turn somebody on to

It was Walter who turned me on to vegetarian food.

7 . turn on the charm also turn it on to suddenly start to be very nice, amusing, and interesting, especially in a way that is not sincere:

Simon was good at turning on the charm at parties.

turn out phrasal verb

1 . to happen in a particular way, or to have a particular result, especially one that you did not expect

turn out well/badly/fine etc

It was a difficult time, but eventually things turned out all right.

To my surprise, it turned out that I was wrong.

As it turned out (=used to say what happened in the end) , he passed the exam quite easily.

turn out to be something

That guy turned out to be Maria’s second cousin.

2 . turn the light out to stop the flow of electricity to a light by pressing a switch, pulling a string etc:

Don’t forget to turn out the lights when you go!

3 . if a lot of people turn out for an event, they go to watch it or take part in it

turn out for

About 70% of the population turned out for the election.

turn out to do something

Thousands turned out to watch yesterday’s match against Ireland.

⇨ ↑ turnout

4 . turn somebody ↔ out to force someone to leave a place permanently, especially their home:

If you can’t pay the rent, they turn you out.

5 . turn something ↔ out to produce or make something:

The factory turns out 300 units a day.

6 . well/beautifully/badly etc turned out dressed in good, beautiful etc clothes:

elegantly turned-out young ladies

7 . turn something ↔ out

a) to empty something completely by taking out the contents:

The policeman made him turn out his pockets.

b) British English to take out everything in a room, drawer etc and clean the room etc thoroughly:

Lea decided to turn out the attic.

turn over phrasal verb

1 . turn something over to somebody to give someone the right to own something, or to make someone responsible for dealing with something:

He’ll turn the shop over to his son when he retires.

turn the matter/problem/responsibility etc over to somebody

I’m turning the project over to you.

2 . turn something over to something to use land, a building etc for a different purpose:

There is a new plan to turn the land over to wind farming.

3 . turn somebody over to somebody to take a criminal to the police or another official organization:

Suspected terrorists are immediately turned over to the law.

4 . turn over something if a business turns over a particular amount of money, it earns that amount in a particular period of time:

Within ten years the theme park was turning over £20 million.

⇨ ↑ turnover

5 . if an engine turns over, or if someone turns it over, it starts to work:

The engine turned over twice and then stopped.

6 . British English to turn a page in a book or a sheet of paper to the opposite side:

Turn over and look at the next page.

7 . British English to change to another ↑ channel on a television:

Can we turn over? There’s a film I want to see.

8 . turn something over British English to search a place thoroughly or steal things from it, making it very untidy:

Burglars had been in and turned the whole house over.

⇨ turn over a new leaf at ↑ leaf 1 (3), ⇨ turn something over in your mind at ↑ mind 1 (17)

turn round phrasal verb British English

⇨ ↑ turn around

turn to somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . to try to get help, advice, or sympathy from someone:

I don’t know who to turn to.

The Namibian government turned to South Africa for help.

2 . to start to do or use something new, especially as a way of solving a problem:

Many people here are turning to solar power.

turn to drink/crime/drugs etc

addicts who turn to crime to finance their habit

3 . turn (something) to something to become a different quality, attitude, form of a substance etc, or to make something do this:

Our laughter turned to horror as we realized that Jody was really hurt.

When water turns to steam, it expands.

A sudden storm turned the earth to mud.

4 . to look at a particular page in a book:

Turn to page 655 for more information.

turn up phrasal verb

1 . turn something ↔ up to turn a switch on a machine such as an ↑ oven , radio etc so that it produces more heat, sound etc OPP turn down :

Turn the oven up to 220.

Turn up the radio!

2 . to be found, especially by chance, after having been lost or searched for:

Eventually my watch turned up in a coat pocket.

3 . to arrive at a place, especially in a way that is unexpected:

You can’t just turn up and expect a meal.

turn up late/early/on time etc

Steve turned up late, as usual.

4 . if an opportunity or situation turns up, it happens, especially when you are not expecting it:

Don’t worry, I’m sure a job will turn up soon.

5 . turn something ↔ up to find something by searching for it thoroughly:

The police investigation hasn’t turned up any new evidence.

6 . turn something ↔ up British English to shorten a skirt, trousers etc by folding up the bottom and sewing it

⇨ turn up trumps at ↑ trump 1 (4)

turn upon somebody/something phrasal verb formal

1 . to suddenly attack someone, using physical violence or unpleasant words SYN turn on

2 . if a situation, event, argument etc turns upon a particular thing or idea, it depends on that thing SYN turn on :

The court case turned upon a technicality of company law.

II. turn 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ turn , ↑ upturn , ↑ turning ; verb : ↑ turn , ↑ overturn ; adjective : ↑ upturned ]

1 . CHANCE TO DO SOMETHING [countable] the time when it is your chance, duty, or right to do something that each person in a group is doing one after the other SYN go British English

turn to do something

Whose turn is it to set the table?

It’s your turn. Roll the dice.

I think it’s our turn to drive the kids to school this week.


In everyday English, people often say that it is someone’s go in a game rather than turn :

Whose go is it now?

Wait until it’s your go.

2 . take turns ( also take it in turns ) British English if two or more people take turns doing work, using something etc, they do it one after the other, for example in order to share the work or play fairly:

You’ll have to take turns on the swing.

take turns doing something

The students were taking turns reading aloud.

take turns in doing something British English :

We took turns in pushing the bike along.

take turns to do something

Dan and I usually take turns to cook.

3 . in turn

a) as a result of something:

Interest rates were cut and, in turn, share prices rose.

b) one after the other, especially in a particular order:

Each of us in turn had to describe how alcohol had affected our lives.

4 . ROAD [countable]

a) American English a place where one road goes in a different direction from the one you are on SYN turning British English :

According to the map we missed our turn back there.

take the first/a wrong etc turn (=go along the first etc road)

I think we took a wrong turn coming out of town.

Take the second turn on the left.

b) a curve in a road, path etc:

There’s a sharp turn coming up ahead.

5 . CHANGE DIRECTION [countable] a change in the direction you are moving

make a left/right turn

Make a left turn at the station.

6 . CHANGE IN EVENTS [countable] a sudden or unexpected change that makes a situation develop in a different way

take a dramatic/fresh/different etc turn

From then on, our fortunes took a downward turn.

My career had already taken a new turn.

The President was stunned by the sudden turn of events.

take a turn for the worse/better

Two days after the operation, Dad took a turn for the worse.

7 . the turn of the century/year the beginning of a new century or year:

the short period from the turn of the century until World War One

8 . at every turn happening again and again, especially in an annoying way:

problems that presented themselves at every turn

9 . ACT OF TURNING SOMETHING [countable] the act of turning something completely around a fixed point:

I gave the screw another two or three turns.

10 . by turns changing from one quality, feeling etc to another:

By turns, a 14 year old is affectionate then aggressive, silent then outspoken.

11 . turn of phrase

a) the ability to say things in a clever or funny way:

Kate has a colourful turn of phrase.

b) a particular way of saying something SYN expression :

What a strange turn of phrase!

12 . speak/talk out of turn to say something you should not say in a particular situation, especially because you do not have enough authority to say it:

I’m sorry if I spoke out of turn, Major Karr.

13 . do somebody a good/bad turn to do something that is helpful or unhelpful for someone:

You did me a good turn by driving Max home last night.

14 . one good turn deserves another used to say that if someone does something nice for you, you should do something nice for them

15 . turn of mind the particular way that someone usually thinks or feels

an academic/practical etc turn of mind

youngsters with an independent turn of mind

16 . on the turn British English

a) if the ↑ tide is on the turn, the sea is starting to come in or go out

b) starting to change, or in the process of changing:

Hopefully my luck was on the turn.

c) if milk, fish, or other food is on the turn, it is no longer fresh

17 . turn of speed British English a sudden increase in your speed, or the ability to increase your speed suddenly:

He’s a top goalkicker with a surprising turn of speed.

18 . done to a turn British English to be perfectly cooked

19 . take a turn in/on etc something old-fashioned to walk somewhere for pleasure

20 . give somebody a turn old-fashioned to frighten someone

21 . have a turn British English old-fashioned to feel slightly ill

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.