Definition of turtle in English:


Syllabification: tur·tle
Pronunciation: /ˈtərtl


  • 1A slow-moving reptile, enclosed in a scaly or leathery domed shell into which it can retract its head and thick legs.
    • Family Testudinidae: numerous genera and species, including the European tortoise (Testudo graeca)
  • 2 (also sea turtle) A large marine reptile with a bony or leathery shell and flippers, coming ashore annually on sandy beaches to lay eggs.
    • Families Cheloniidae (seven species) and Dermochelyidae (the leatherback)
  • 2.1The flesh of a sea turtle, especially the green turtle, used chiefly for soup.
    More example sentences
    • One of the main dishes was a soup - soft shelled turtle soup.
    • The ball came to an end at 3am, when the waitresses served turtle soup.
    • She told me about Escoffier's cookbook and its recipe for turtle soup.
  • 3A freshwater reptile related to the turtles, typically having a flattened shell. Called terrapin in South Africa and India and tortoise in Australia.
    • Order Chelonia: several families, in particular Emydidae and Kinosternidae
  • 3.1North American Any reptile of the order Chelonia, including the terrapins and tortoises.
  • 4 Computing A directional cursor in a computer graphics system that can be instructed to move around a screen.


turn turtle

(Chiefly of a boat) capsize.
More example sentences
  • Kevin bellows instructions, and in quick time we exit the boat, turn turtle and fin towards the edge of the drop-off.
  • She had turned turtle and capsized and those who were not able to get out in the first few hours were surely trapped for good.
  • Four minutes later the ship turned turtle and sank.


mid 16th century: apparently an alteration of French tortue (see tortoise).

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