Definition of turn in English:

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Pronunciation: /təːn/


1Move or cause to move in a circular direction wholly or partly around an axis or point: [no object]: the big wheel was turning [with object]: I turned the key in the door and crept in
More example sentences
  • The most striking design element of the atrium is the circular stair that turns 180 degrees between floors.
  • Inside, a large circular stone is rapidly turning and grinding dried corn kernels into flour, using only the power of the running water.
  • Before Copernicus, medieval scholars solemnly concluded that the Earth couldn't possibly be moving and turning.
go round, revolve, rotate, spin, go round and round, go round in circles, roll, circle, wheel, whirl, twirl, gyrate, swivel, spiral, pivot
go round, pass round, sweep round, round;
negotiate, take
1.1 [with object] Perform (a somersault or cartwheel): the boy shot up off the ground and turned a somersault in the air
More example sentences
  • More than that, she adds, being able to balance on her hands, to turn cartwheels, to tumble and flip is part of who she is.
  • The fourth, and possibly most pertinent, question is whether young girls today ever turn cartwheels.
  • Moray eels shout at you in silent warning from their crevices and rays have been known to turn somersault.
perform, execute, do, carry out
1.2 [with object] Twist or sprain (an ankle): Wright turned his ankle in the first minute of the game
More example sentences
  • One person twisted or turned his or her ankle.
  • Sprained ankles commonly result from tripping or turning the ankle the wrong way.
  • The beachside is a mess, and Hillary for one would not like to risk a stroll along the seafront in case of turning my finely turned ankle.
sprain, twist, rick, wrench;
hurt, injure
2 [with object and adverbial] Move (something) so that it is in a different position in relation to its surroundings or its previous position: we waited in suspense for him to turn the cards over
More example sentences
  • Alex turned the paper several different ways, trying to figure out which way was up.
  • Andy snorted again, turning the rag a different direction.
  • I found myself turning a box of cards around so the Virgin Mary wouldn't have to witness me buying skeleton candy.
2.1 [no object] Change the position of one’s body so that one is facing in a different direction: Charlie turned and looked at his friend
More example sentences
  • My hips and body are turning faster, which knocks my timing out.
  • I shook my head, turning away from the body that she held limply.
  • He turned and used his body as a barrier between her and the ball, moving from side to side to try and get around her.
2.2Move (something) so as to be aimed or pointed in a particular direction: she turned her head towards me the government has now turned its attention to primary schools
More example sentences
  • She scoffed his direction as she turned her head toward her sandwich once more.
  • I hopped up quickly, cautiously moving around, rolling my eyes in every direction, turning my head every which way.
  • During the mating season, birds' attention turns toward nesting.
aim at, point at, level at, direct at, train at, focus on
2.3Change or cause to change direction: [no object, with adverbial of direction]: we turned round and headed back to the house
More example sentences
  • Give us your take on St. Petersburg as a whole and the first time ever that the IndyCar Series cars turned both right and left.
  • They turned round once more towards Holme and drove slowly back to the spot.
  • Then he said the car turned towards the pavement but the driver appeared to change her mind at the last minute.
bend, curve, wind, twist, loop, meander, snake, zigzag
2.4 [no object] (Of the tide) change from flood to ebb or vice versa: as the tide turned he finally managed to bring the barge into its berth
More example sentences
  • Dracula called in a fog to keep the boat docked until after the tide turned, so that he could board it.
  • Following the destruction of the American fleet at Pearl Harbour, the tide had slowly turned.
  • However, with today's Law Lords decision and the government's defeat on detention without charge the tide may finally be turning.
2.5 [with object] Move (a page) over so that it is flat against the previous or next page: she turned a page noisily [no object]: turn to page five for the answer
More example sentences
  • It turns a very sad page in the history of this government.
  • She turned a few more pages until she came across some recipes for low fat treats.
  • The page had to be turned, he argued, in the interests of the nation.
flip over, flick over/through, leaf through
2.6Fold or unfold (fabric or a piece of a garment) in the specified way: he turned up the collar of his coat
2.7 [with object] (usually as adjective turned) Printing Set or print (a type or letter) upside down.
2.8 [with object] Pass round (the flank or defensive lines of an army) so as to attack it from the side or rear: there was still the sea, by way of which the Persians hoped to turn all mountain or isthmus defence lines
More example sentences
  • With almost 80,000 men Wellington outnumbered the French, and tried to pin Joseph to his position by a frontal attack while turning his flank.
2.9 [with object] archaic Bend back (the edge of a blade) so as to make it blunt: thou hast also turned the edge of his sword
3Change or cause to change in nature, state, form, or colour; become or make: [no object, with complement or adverbial]: she turned pale [with object and complement or adverbial]: cover potatoes with sacking to keep the light from turning them green most of the sugars are turned into alcohol
More example sentences
  • He walked down the street just as the slight drizzle turned into a moderate downpour.
  • Artemis simply smiled at her and she could see his face turn a slight pink colour, this made her giggle.
  • It is good for a bit of a chuckle if the weather turns nasty this weekend.
become, develop into, prove to be, turn out to be;
change into, be transformed into, metamorphose into
become, go, grow, get, come to be
convert, change, transform, make;
adapt, modify, rebuild, reconstruct, refashion, remake, make over, restyle
3.1 [with object and complement or adverbial] Send or put into a specified place or condition: the dogs were turned loose on the crowd
More example sentences
  • She stopped at that hand, turning Tara loose to run with the other horses.
  • They gave me a lovely nametag and lanyard and then turned me loose in the gaming room.
  • Coach Lefty Driesell turns 'em loose and lets'em go, and they know what to do.
3.2 [with object] Pass the age or time of: I’ve just turned forty
reach (the age of), get to (the age of), become, pass
informal hit
3.3 [no object] (Of leaves) change colour in the autumn: the chestnut leaves were turning
More example sentences
  • Leaves are turning and are providing us with a beautiful last blast of colour before they fall and disintegrate into a sodden mush of brown.
  • No frost yet, so the leaves are not turning en masse; instead there has been a long succession of lovely sunny days and blue skies.
  • It sounds utterly inappropriate as the leaves turn, night draws in and Wales floods.
3.4(With reference to the stomach) make or become nauseated: [with object]: the smell was bad enough to turn the strongest stomach
More example sentences
  • The latest round of political maneuvering in Indonesia is enough to turn one's stomach.
  • The sight of those five smug and arrogant oil corporation CEOs was enough to turn one's stomach.
  • My body shakes at every joint, my empty stomach turns and nausea rushes over me in waves.
nauseate, cause to feel sick, cause to feel nauseous, sicken, make sick, make someone's gorge rise, make someone's stomach rise
informal make someone want to throw up
3.5(With reference to milk) make or become sour.
go/become sour, go off, sour, curdle, become rancid, go bad, spoil, taint
4 [no object] (turn to) Start doing or becoming involved with: in 1939 he turned to films in earnest
More example sentences
  • All these success stories have got many Indian Americans turning to film production, with finances in place or not.
  • When film journalists turn to book writing, the result can be hilarious.
  • Philips, also a Fox contract player, appeared in a few more films before turning to directing television.
take up, become/get involved with, involve oneself in, begin to participate in, go in for, enter, become interested in, start doing, undertake
4.1Go on to consider next: we can now turn to another aspect of the problem
More example sentences
  • Finally, I turn to consider the practical consequences of giving the magistrates' court jurisdiction.
  • I therefore turn to consider whether the law imposes any limitation upon the exercise of power under the section.
  • We turn to consider how those principles should be applied in the present context.
move on to, go on to, begin to consider, turn one's attention to, attend to, address/apply oneself to;
pick up, take up, refer to
4.2Go to for help or information: who can she turn to?
More example sentences
  • Biologists are turning to information technology to produce critically needed efficiencies in their work.
  • Chang also noted that a number of top information technology players are turning to Linux as an operating system for mobile devices.
  • It's not so much the BBC or foreign sources of information that people are turning to.
seek help from, have recourse to, approach, apply to, look to, appeal to
4.3Have recourse to (something, especially something harmful): he turned to drink and drugs for solace
More example sentences
  • I turn to the other recourse for rancid times: the cultivation of my garden.
  • Since then, he had been fired from two jobs, and in the face of rising pot prices, had turned to other, more harmful drugs.
  • To relieve her anxieties, Wong, 26, turns to a collagen fortified drink and forces herself to eat more fruits.
take to, resort to, have recourse to
5 [with object] Shape (something) on a lathe: the faceplate is turned rather than cast
More example sentences
  • When Jonathan was 12, he started turning wood on a lathe.
  • He will turn wood on a lathe and tend the museum's medieval garden, which has plants for household, culinary and medicinal use.
  • In 1993, at the age of 81, Gunnar made himself a wood lathe specifically to turn spheres.
fashion, make, shape, mould, cast, form
5.1Give a graceful or elegant form to: (as adjective, with submodifier turned) a production full of so many finely turned words
6 [with object] Make (a profit).
Example sentences
  • The show cost its investors a socking outlay of $14m, but within 14 months they started turning a sinfully large profit.
  • To fill in spare time, he was devising new odds calculation programmes for football matches, which were turning him a neat profit.


1An act of moving something in a circular direction around an axis or point: a safety lock requiring four turns of the key
More example sentences
  • The turn of a key in the lock makes me jerk away from my heavenly memory and into my brutal reality.
  • As I put the key in the lock for the final turn, my mother asked me if I was sad.
  • Lower the ram a bit and screw the seating stem down three or four turns.
rotation, revolution, spin, circle, whirl, twirl, gyration, swivel
1.1A bend or curve in a road, path, river, etc. the twists and turns in the passageways
More example sentences
  • Kenny kept leading them around twists and turns and crazy bends in the road before they finally pulled up to a beautiful three-story house.
  • The distance is less than seven miles as the crow flies, but is 13 miles by water, because of the twists and turns of the river.
  • I know the road well so I know exactly where night-time leaves its sharp twists, turns and blind bends.
bend, corner, dog-leg, twist, zigzag;
British  hairpin bend
1.2 [mass noun] Cricket Deviation in the direction of the ball when bouncing off the pitch: the spinners have already begun to extract a lot of turn
More example sentences
  • The ball was turning today but it was mainly slow turn.
  • It looks like Ozio doesn't have a lot of hand in the ball or as much turn as other people.
  • The wicket in Centurion didn't take much turn, and that helped us a lot.
1.3One round in a coil of rope or other material.
Example sentences
  • The filament is helical, and has ~ 11 monomers for every two turns of the one-start helix.
  • Once you have completed about ten turns of the whipping take a sharp razor knife and cut the remainder of the trapped line flush with the whipping.
2A change of direction when moving: they made a left turn and picked up speed
More example sentences
  • As you can see from the picture, there is not even any room to do a three-point turn, never mind a high speed stunt!
  • You wouldn't know where to start with a three-point turn if you had not been taught how to and had a go by yourself.
  • I had aced my emergency stop and my hill start, and we were on our way to do a three-point turn.
change of direction, change of course, turning, veer, divergence
2.1A development or change in a situation: the latest turn of events life has taken a turn for the better
More example sentences
  • He admitted things seemed to have taken a turn for the better in recent years.
  • Phrases lead to complex, surprising turns and developments.
  • This has to be one of the most bizarre turns of events I've seen in a very long time.
deteriorate, get/grow worse, worsen, decline, retrogress
informal go downhill
development, incident, occurrence, happening, circumstance, phenomenon
2.2A time when one period of time ends and another begins: the turn of the century
More example sentences
  • The sandstone buildings date back to the turn of the century when terraced houses first became popular in Glasgow.
  • However, around the turn of the 15th century, the practice began of having a small chorus sing polyphonically.
  • By the turn of the century, Al-Jazeera broadcasts could be watched around the clock on all five continents.
2.3A place where a road meets or branches off another; a turning: they were approaching the turn
More example sentences
  • Garry said they drove from Darwen town centre towards Ewood and for some reason Sean missed his turn into Branch Road.
  • I stuck to the Navigation Map which is easier to use than the north-facing map and also highlights your next turn at the top of the screen.
  • The new works have allowed an improved view of the approach to the turn and has widened the roadway at a crucial spot.
turning, junction, crossroads;
North American  turnout
2.4A change of the tide from ebb to flow or vice versa: the turn of the tide
More example sentences
  • They have to be hauled during the turn of the tide, when the water flow is at a minimum.
  • This week marks the return of an old friend, who comes to us now at the turn of the tide.
  • The opening has signalled a turn of the tide for unionism in Australia.
2.5 (the turn) The beginning of the second nine holes of a round of golf: he made the turn in one under par
More example sentences
  • It's a second bogey in three holes since the turn.
  • Not wanting to be embarrassed, I shot a 47 on the front nine and really bore down after the turn.
  • The match was pretty tight on the front nine but I had a couple of really good holes around the turn and I pulled away.
3An opportunity or obligation to do something that comes successively to each of a number of people: it was his turn to speak
More example sentences
  • Mr Wilson and Mr Nicholas stood to the side waiting their turn.
  • They spoke in turns and never interrupted the one with the spear.
  • Samantha stood quietly to the side, waiting her turn, wondering where Jeana and Jais were.
opportunity, chance, say;
stint, spell, time;
try, attempt
informal go, shot, stab, crack
3.1A short performance, especially one of a number given by different performers in succession: Lewis gave her best ever comic turn he was asked to do a turn at a children’s party
More example sentences
  • Polak is a powerful presence in the lead, displaying remarkable physical and emotional range, while Treasa Levasseur is a standout in both comic and tragic turns.
  • As a child I used to love New Year's Eve because the holiday community to which we belonged built a bonfire, sang songs and did comic turns.
  • His comic turn failed to save him from nine months' hard labour.
act, routine, performance, number, piece;
3.2A performer giving a short performance: Malton’s comedy turn, Mark Poole, takes to the stage tonight in Cinderella
More example sentences
  • She simply agonises over how to describe what she does when a camera is pointed at her, saying that she feels more like a performer or a circus turn than an actress.
  • Rush is always an entertaining turn and the role promises to license a hyperactive nastiness.
  • Then best known as one of the stars of The Comedians, Granada's popular showcase of northern comic turns, Reid was as surprised as anyone when he was asked to front the new series in 1975.
4A short walk or ride: why don’t you take a turn around the garden?
stroll, walk, saunter, amble, wander, airing, promenade;
drive, ride, outing, excursion, jaunt
informal mosey, tootle, spin
British informal pootle
dated constitutional
rare perambulation
5 informal A shock: you gave us quite a turn!
shock, start, surprise, jolt;
fright, scare
5.1A brief feeling or experience of illness: he has these funny turns
More example sentences
  • But she then started to experience funny turns and we cancelled the holiday.
  • Harry thought I was having another one of my funny turns.
  • I can have a drink with those sort of reactionaries whereas fascists bring on one of my funny turns.
6The difference between the buying and selling price of stocks or other financial products.
Example sentences
  • Nearly all market turns show divergences between price and technical indicators such as momentum.
  • The turn most likely reflects rising import prices, a result of the dollar's drop.
6.1A profit made from the difference between the buying and selling price of stocks or other financial products.
7 Music A melodic ornament consisting of the principal note with those above and below it.
Example sentences
  • In the Romantic era, signs were still used for simple ornaments such as trills, turns, or mordents.
  • Here the many details, such as decorative turns, came across with meaning and heartfelt expression.
  • There are no interesting harmonic turns, no unusual chords or harmony.



at every turn

On every occasion; continually: her name seemed to come up at every turn
More example sentences
  • It was a mantra repeated at every turn.
  • There were pockets of shade at every turn.
  • We're going to talk about positive issues, we're not going to be bashing the President at every turn.
repeatedly, recurrently, all the time, always, continually, constantly, on every occasion, again and again, over and over again

by turns

One after the other; alternately: he was by turns amused and mildly annoyed by her
More example sentences
  • The man is, by turns, amused and annoyed by the presence of cameras in his midst.
  • It's charming and embarrassing, silly and touching by turns; mildly, reassuringly affecting.
  • Such dubious assertions are by turns annoying and unintentionally amusing.

do someone a good (or bad) turn

Do something that is helpful (or unhelpful) for someone: he was a friend of mine, and had done me some good turns over the previous few months
More example sentences
  • People are looking for the Cardinal to do them a good turn.
  • A journalist who, because she was from his own native county of Longford, decided to do her a good turn, found himself in court because Ms Johnson did not like the way her comments were treated in the Star.
  • It's not just the money because they also did us a good turn as players.
service, deed, act, action;
(a good turn) favour, act of kindness, kindness;
(a bad turn) disservice, wrong, harm, injury

in turn

In succession; one after the other: everyone took it in turn to attack my work
More example sentences
  • The team of four anglers took it in turn to fish the same swim and over a period of months took over a hundred fish.
  • They had to shout bogies in turn louder and louder - the loudest to shout was the winner.
  • The band are in turn calling themselves very important and very brilliant at the same time.
one after the other, one by one, one at a time, in succession, successively, sequentially, in order;
Latin seriatim
(also in one's/its turn)4.1 Used to convey that an action, process, or situation is the result of a previous one: he would shout until she, in her turn, lost her temper
More example sentences
  • Fish, in their turn, get to carnivores and in this way poison gets into a man's meal.
  • The school system is a microcosmic image of a tyrannical society - the rich older boys rule the roost while the juniors bide their time, accepting the bullying, waiting to become bullies in their turn.
  • Shareholders issue these vouchers to tenants who in turn issue them to employees.

not know which way (or where) to turn

Not know what to do.
Example sentences
  • Our health care system so bewildering and impersonal that one often doesn't know where to turn or whom to trust.
  • The illiterate farmer doesn't know where to turn.
  • Julie is still trying to cope with her truanting, drug-taking son and she doesn't know where to turn to find help.

not turn a hair

see hair.

one good turn deserves another

proverb If someone does you a favour, you should take the chance to repay it.
Example sentences
  • She stabbed him a season or two back and one good turn deserves another.
  • ‘As I see it,’ the woman said, ‘one good turn deserves another.’
  • His eyes hardened, ‘Well, I guess one good turn deserves another.’

on the turn

At a turning point; in a state of change: my luck is on the turn
More example sentences
  • Today you can feel the tide of fashion on the turn.
  • The tide was on the turn.
  • The fact that there are so many of them around suggests to some that the tide must be on the turn and that the only way now is up.
8.1(Of certain foods or liquids) going off: the smell of meat on the turn
More example sentences
  • Some of the effusions of the last ten days have started to smell slightly off, like milk on the turn.
  • He returned the bottle to the fridge, which smelled strongly of Sue's garlic and vegetables on the turn.
  • Does Englishness elide into Scottishness in a sidling sort of way, like a pint of milk on the turn?

out of turn

At a time when it is not one’s turn: he played out of turn
More example sentences
  • Examples of discourteous actions are: shouting, freestyling, slapping course equipment, throwing out of turn and throwing or kicking golf bags.
  • They should have been disqualified for playing out of turn at the semi-final.
  • They would then complain to the referee that she had played out of turn.

speak (or talk) out of turn

Speak in a tactless way: she was the first to take umbrage if they spoke out of turn
More example sentences
  • They don't want anyone talking out of turn.
  • However, we are not talking out of turn when, with respect, we congratulate Margaret Lawson on the 25 letters she had printed.
  • He might have been just talking out of turn, but tonight might be interesting.

take turns (or British take it in turns)

(Of two or more people) do something alternately or in succession: the girls took turns admiring their reflections in the compact mirror
More example sentences
  • You and your partner should take it in turns, on alternate days, to be the asker.
  • My girl and I took turns putting our fingers in our ears, or hands over our eyes during the scary bits.
  • There were two other girls who were taking turns trying to get his attention.

to a turn

To exactly the right degree (used especially in relation to cooking): beefburgers done to a turn
More example sentences
  • Gideon Gaye's follow-up, Hawaii, confounded all those expectations but still managed to serve up a generous dose of thoughtful, evocative tunes, done to a turn.
  • The pork roast was done to a turn.
  • And make sure the underpart is baked to a turn, so that it's all soaked in juice, so well done that the whole of it, you see, is - I mean, I don't want it to crumble, but melt in the mouth like snow, so that one shouldn't even feel it - feel it melting.
perfectly, just right, exactly right, to perfection
informal to a T

turn and turn about

chiefly British One after another; in succession: the two men were working in rotation, turn and turn about
More example sentences
  • When we got back home we started out on the task of scanning and correcting the prints, taking turn and turn about but, really, there's only so much you can do.
  • The Hatfields and the McCoys go at it, turn and turn about, until no one's left standing.
  • I distributed them equally between my four pockets, and sucked them turn and turn about.

turn one's back on

see back.

turn the (or a) corner

Pass the critical point and start to improve: the industry has turned the corner and things are looking up
More example sentences
  • The games industry looks as if it is finally turning the corner.
  • Former pit communities in South Yorkshire hit by the collapse of the mining industry are finally turning the corner after years of decline.
  • Consumption of red meat was now higher than it had been in the last decade, and the industry had turned a corner.

turn a deaf ear

see deaf.

turn one's hand to something

see hand.

turn one's head

see head.

turn heads

see head.

turn an honest penny

see honest.

turn in one's grave

see grave1.

turn of mind

Pronunciation: /ˌtəːn əv ˈmʌɪnd/
A particular way of thinking: people with a practical turn of mind
More example sentences
  • I do not think it takes a radical postmodern turn of mind to conclude we cannot reliably write much about the the mind.
  • Jefferson, not surprisingly, was not of a prescriptive turn of mind on this question.
  • Excerpts from the memos clearly show a conservative turn of mind.
bent, disposition, inclination, tendency, propensity, bias, way of thinking;
aptitude, talent, gift, flair

turn of speed

The ability to go fast when necessary: the boats showed a very fast turn of speed
More example sentences
  • Add to that outstanding build quality and a turn of speed indecently fast for a diesel and you have a great package.
  • He is a good runner with a fast turn of speed at the finish.
  • He has a rare turn of speed and the ability to beat men in the tightest of one-on-one situations.

turn on one's heel

see heel1.

turn the other cheek

see cheek.

turn over a new leaf

Start to act or behave in a better or more responsible way.
Example sentences
  • Avery's response is to turn over a new leaf.
  • A reprieved Dr Rob turns over a new leaf, and places an illustrated lonely hearts ad.
  • Is he turning over a new leaf?
reform, improve, amend;
mend one's ways, become a better person, change completely, make a fresh start, change for the better, reconstruct oneself
informal go straight, get back on the straight and narrow

turn something over in one's mind

Think about something thoroughly: he turned over in his mind what to say next
More example sentences
  • Geneva thoroughly turned this subject over in her mind and pondered upon it.
  • The man turns it over in his mind, chewing on his bottom lip.
  • He selects each person here with care, patiently turning them over in his mind, studying them with his kind eyes.

turn round and do (or say) something

informal Used to convey that someone’s actions or words are perceived as unexpected or unwelcome: then she just turned round and said she wasn’t coming after all
More example sentences
  • You write them off as beyond hope and then they turn round and say something that makes you wonder if they weren't right all along.
  • Of course, I could turn round and say it's almost a natural reaction, if someone goes in over the top on you, that you wave him off.
  • I think that to turn round and say a member cannot do that is absolutely unfair.

turn the scales

see scale2.

turn the tables

see table.

turn tail

informal Turn round and run away.
Example sentences
  • We'll call it a draw, and turn tail and flee.
  • Many of the guests turned tail and fled.
  • Both robbers turned tail and fled.
run away, flee, bolt, make off, take to one's heels, show someone a clean pair of heels, cut and run, beat a (hasty) retreat
informal scram, scarper, skedaddle, vamoose

turn the tide

Reverse the trend of events: the air power that helped to turn the tide of battle
More example sentences
  • A battle was waged which turned the tide of the Second World War.
  • The National Commissioner said the police were turning the tide against crime and that this trend would continue.
  • The Code Talkers were honored for creating a code which was credited with saving thousands of lives and turning the tide of decisive battles in the Pacific theater.

turn something to (good) account


turn a trick

see trick.

turn turtle

see turtle.

turn up one's nose at

see nose.

Phrasal verbs


turn about

Move so as to face in the opposite direction: Alice turned about and walked down the corridor
More example sentences
  • It simply couldn't turn about and reverse direction and position that fast.
  • It is exactly the kind of scene that van Hoogstraten proposes as ideal for viewing in a camera, full of countless people walking and turning about.
  • Kourin watched in dismay as Kellan turned about and began walking towards the mountains.

turn against (or turn someone against)

Become (or cause someone to become) hostile towards: public opinion turned against him
More example sentences
  • Their idealism turns them against, not towards, the party.
  • Serena rejects the offer and Lil accuses David of turning Serena against her.
  • Olympias even managed to turn Alexander against his father.
become hostile to, take a dislike to, become unsympathetic to, become disenchanted with, become disillusioned with
make hostile to, set against, cause to dislike, cause to be unfriendly towards, prejudice against, influence against;
alienate from, drive a wedge between, estrange from

turn something around

chiefly North American see turn something round .

turn someone away

Refuse to allow someone to enter or pass through a place: tourists were turned away at the crossing points
More example sentences
  • Hospitals aren't legally allowed to turn you away.
  • What if they are turned away?
  • Cleopatra enters, and he turns her away, saying that he wishes that Caesar will capture her and make a public spectacle of her.
refuse admittance to, send away;
reject, rebuff, repel, cold-shoulder
informal send packing, give someone the brush-off

turn back (or turn someone/thing back)

Go (or cause someone or something to go) back in the direction in which they have come: they turned back before reaching the church police turned back hundreds of cars
More example sentences
  • I slung my bag on my back and reached Will, turning him back in the direction we had come.
  • Military police were turning reporters back.
  • A group of 150 football hooligans were turned back.

turn someone down

Reject an offer or application made by someone: the RAF turned him down on medical grounds
More example sentences
  • You would not complain if you were turned down in a job application for health reasons.
  • We did advertise earlier this year and only had three applicants, two weren't suitable and the one we offered it to turned us down.
  • He never asks for help and he turns you down when you offer it.
reject, spurn, rebuff, refuse, decline, say no to
informal give the thumbs down to, give the red light to
British informal knock back

turn something down

1Reject something offered or proposed: his novel was turned down by publisher after publisher
More example sentences
  • Sheffield Council says the Government has not turned its plans down.
  • Chris and Phil turned his kind offer down.
  • She was asked by her Physical Education instructor to try out for netball but she had to turn the offer down.
2Adjust a control on an electrical device to reduce the volume, heat, etc. she turned the sound down
More example sentences
  • You can control what you hear, just simply find the spot in you where you can control the volume and turn it down.
  • They told her how much they look forward to having a decadent TV meal on a tray in front of the screen, turning the volume down and just admiring the Scottish scenery for an hour!
  • An understandably muted crowd turned the volume knob down another notch or two.
reduce, lower, decrease, lessen;
muffle, mute

turn in

informal Go to bed in the evening.
Example sentences
  • Bangalore turns in early on winter nights, except for the few who frequent late night movie shows or night spots.
  • Alternately, before turning in you may like to embark on a quest to find the island's buried treasure.
  • Still feeling the impact of my long flight from London, I am keen to turn in.
go to bed, retire, call it a day, go to sleep
informal hit the hay, hit the sack
British informal go up the stairs to Bedfordshire

turn someone in

Hand someone over to the authorities: police have appealed to his family and friends to turn him in
More example sentences
  • The girl's family turned him in to immigration authorities and he was deported.
  • We could turn him in to the local authorities.
  • When he is caught, the boys decide not to turn him in to the school authorities.
hand over, turn over;
betray, inform on, denounce, sell out, stab someone in the back
informal split on, blow the whistle on, rat on, peach on, squeal on, squeak on
British informal grass on, sneak on, shop
North American informal rat out, drop a/the dime on, finger
Australian/New Zealand informal dob on, pimp on, pool, shelf, put someone's pot on
rare delate

turn something in

Give something to someone in authority: I’ve turned in my resignation
More example sentences
  • The blank obverse side of the maps bear a list of the Obligaciones del Comprador-the duties of the purchaser-including, at the first signs of outbreak of civil disturbance, turning the map in to national authorities.
  • To this end an amnesty period of three to six months should be declared to allow those in possession of illegal unlicensed guns to turn them in to the authorities.
  • At KMB, mobiles unclaimed after three months are offered back to the person who turned them in and if they don't want the phones, the mobiles are donated to charity, a spokeswoman said.
hand in/over, give in, submit, tender, proffer, offer;
return, give back, surrender, give up
10.1Produce or achieve a particular score or a performance of a specified quality: he has turned in some useful performances for the under-21 and England B sides
More example sentences
  • Great performances were turned in by many members of the team.
  • Phenomenal performances are turned in from all of the aforementioned artists.
  • Other memorable performances were turned in by Tipperary's Declan Browne.
achieve, attain, reach, make;
notch up, chalk up, rack up, register, record

turn into

Become (a particular kind of thing or person); be transformed into: the slight drizzle turned into a downpour that dream turned into a nightmare in the next instant he turned into a tiny mouse
More example sentences
  • In some respects, the trend toward greater tolerance has turned into a floodtide.
  • The same situation in Angola, the two Congos, also in Cameroon, cinemas are turning into casinos.
  • The building which housed Britain's first ten-pin bowling alley was set to be turned into a family home.

turn someone/thing into

Cause to become (a particular kind of thing or person); transform into: the town was turned into a thriving seaside destination every single good children 's book has been turned into a feature-length cartoon
More example sentences
  • For what we are going to do now is consider how to turn a theme into a plot.
  • RE Anthony Hargrove needs plenty of playing time to help turn his potential into production.
  • The decision infuriated residents, who saw their once well-kept verges rapidly turn into wilderness.

turn off

Leave one road in order to join another: they turned off the main road we turned off to the right
More example sentences
  • At the point we had to turn off the main road north.
  • He was later told to turn off the main road and ended up on a dirt track.
  • I turned off the main road, and took the short cut through the woods.
leave, branch off;
take a side road, take another road
informal make/take a left/right
North American informal hang a left/right

turn someone off

informal Cause someone to feel bored, disgusted, or sexually repelled: the idea just turns me off
More example sentences
  • She was turned off by the overtly sexual messages of most of the men who wrote to her.
  • Like many other people, I was turned off.
  • If the idea of wearing big shapes turns you off, indulge in big accessories instead.
put off, leave someone cold, repel, disgust, revolt, nauseate, sicken, offend;
disenchant, alienate;
North American informal gross out

turn something off

Stop the operation or flow of something by means of a tap, switch, or button: remember to turn off the gas
More example sentences
  • He pressed the stop button and turned the music off, apologizing.
  • She jabbed at the button to turn the alarm off, and it stopped its absurd shrieking.
  • I just stopped long enough to turn the gas off at the mains and then got out.
15.1Adjust a tap or switch in order to stop the operation or flow of something.
Example sentences
  • You turn the switch off chemically and it stops the production.
  • Visualize a stop sign - imagine closing a spigot - or imagine turning a light switch off.
  • Sure enough, someone - probably me - had turned the wireless switch off and I failed to notice it.

turn on

1Suddenly attack physically or verbally: he turned on her with cold savagery
More example sentences
  • Suddenly Lily turns on her.
  • Should he lose, it will be like a pack of wolves that suddenly turns on itself.
  • He said he feared for his life after the three men suddenly turned on him and started punching him.
attack, set on, fall on, launch an attack on, let fly at, lash out at, hit out at;
weigh into, round on, lose one's temper with
informal lay into, tear into, lace into, sail into, pitch into, let someone have it, get stuck into, wade into, bite someone's head off, jump down someone's throat
British informal have a go at
North American informal light into
2Have as the main topic or point of interest: for most businessmen, the central questions will turn on taxation
More example sentences
  • In such a world there is no space for a communication without a topic that turns on money.
  • The question turns on that vexed subject, the moral status of the human embryo.
  • That the question turns on the meaning of a passage from Scripture is not insignificant.
depend on, rest on, hang on, hinge on, be contingent on, be decided by;
concern, revolve round, relate to

turn someone on

informal Excite or stimulate the interest of someone, especially sexually: if that’s what turns you on that’s fine by me
More example sentences
  • This turns Alison on sexually.
  • I love football, it excites me, it turns me on.
  • While it doesn't turn me on sexually, it does totally fascinate me.
arouse, sexually arouse, excite, stimulate, make someone feel sexually excited, make someone feel sexy, titillate;
please, attract
informal give someone a thrill, get someone going, float someone's boat, do it for someone, light someone's fire, tickle someone's fancy

turn something on

Start the flow or operation of something by means of a tap, switch, or button: she turned on the TV
More example sentences
  • You just press a button four times to turn it on and off.
  • The right button turns the sight on, while the left controls reticle intensity.
  • It takes me forever to find the button to turn the television on.
switch on, put on, power up, flick on;
plug in;
start up, boot up, activate, cause to operate
18.1Adjust a tap or switch in order to start the operation or flow of something: I turned the switch on
More example sentences
  • Vincent found the main power switch and turned it on.
  • Adele turned the faucet on and adjusted the water to a non-scalding temperature.
  • This white wire will be made hot when the switch is turned on and will take the electrical power to the controlled outlet.

turn someone on to

informal Cause someone to become interested or involved in (something, especially drugs): he turned her on to heroin
More example sentences
  • He has turned me on to so many new interests, as well.
  • Weatherall has turned Holmes on to much more modern electronica.
  • She turned me on to so many things.

turn out

1Prove to be the case: the job turned out to be beyond his rather limited abilities
More example sentences
  • That may turn out not prove to be quite so beneficial as it first appears.
  • It turns out there is a job available.
  • The new year is hardly turning out to be happy.
transpire, prove to be the case, emerge, come to light, become known, become apparent, be revealed, be disclosed
happen, occur, come about;
develop, evolve;
work out, come out, end up, result
informal pan out
rare eventuate
2Go somewhere in order to attend a meeting, vote, play in a game, etc. over 75 per cent of the electorate turned out to vote
More example sentences
  • They may even encourage more than half of the electorate to turn out and vote four years from now.
  • Since 1988, Canadians have been turning out to vote in steadily decreasing numbers.
  • He suggested that they should be paid for turning out to vote.

turn someone out

1Eject or expel someone from a place: his landlord could turn him out at any time
More example sentences
  • I will turn you out of my house and send you back to your father.
  • In their arrogance they assumed that no landlord would ever try to turn them out.
  • He wouldn't be surprised if his uncle turned him out tomorrow.
throw out, put out, eject, evict;
expel, oust, drive out, force out, drum out;
deport, banish
informal kick out, chuck out, send packing, boot out, defenestrate, show someone the door, give someone their marching orders, throw someone out on their ear
British informal turf out
2 Military Call a guard from the guardroom.
Example sentences
  • All of the Royal Guard was turned out for the Jovian envoys and he was in charge of it all.
  • The local magistrate read the riot act and 2nd Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was turned out to clear the area.
3 (be turned out) Be dressed in the manner specified: she was smartly turned out and as well groomed as always
More example sentences
  • Ballinkillen's under-10 team were turned out in style at the county blitz finals against Carlow town recently in their brand new jerseys that were sponsored by a local Borris business.

turn something out

1Extinguish a light: he turned out the light and groped his way through the doorway to the bed
More example sentences
  • When the lights were turned out and the respective bedroom doors shut, I could be alone.
  • Before turning the lights out, he would get every one quiet.
  • They drove off down the High Street and I gave chase but lost them when they turned their lights out.
2Produce something: the plant takes 53 hours to turn out each car
More example sentences
  • A rifle was turned out in 22 hours and 36.5 minutes.
  • They have to churn, and I'm confident that when they turn that sausage out, it will be the right kind of sausage for America.
  • Most factory shotguns are turned out with stocks in the 14-to 14 1/4 inch range - adequate but often a compromise.
produce, make, manufacture, fabricate, assemble, put together, process, bring out, put out, churn out
3Empty something, especially one’s pockets: Oliver turned out his pockets and spread out his loot on the ground
More example sentences
  • His pockets had been turned out and money and a gold bracelet given to him for 25 years' service at work were missing.
  • His pockets had been turned out.
  • He pulled his jacket open and turned his pockets out.
clear out, clean out, empty (out)
3.1British Clean out a drawer, room, etc. by taking out and reorganizing its contents.
Example sentences
  • He'll be turning rooms out, one at a time.
4Tip prepared food from a mould or other container.
Example sentences
  • She used clear ‘Blomange’ to fill two fish moulds, turned them out and gilded them with gold leaf.
  • When risen, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide into two and knead each piece lightly.
  • Run cold water over the spinach to cool it quickly, then turn it out onto a chopping board and use a sharp knife to make a couple of cuts across it.

turn over

(Of an engine) start or continue to run properly: the engine turned over when we tried it with the starter handle
More example sentences
  • With a spin of the crank handle the engine turns over easily and off she rattles on her iron tyres.
  • Once the engine turns over, it's off to the races.
  • It shakes and rattles as the engine turns over.

turn someone over to

Deliver someone to the care or custody of (an authority): they turned him over to the police
More example sentences
  • He turned Jeremy over to the local authorities.
  • I shall not turn you over to any authority.
  • We need someone we can trust, who wants to find Kate as much we do, but won't turn us over to the authorities.

turn something over

1Cause an engine to run: remember to turn the engine over occasionally in the cold weather
More example sentences
  • Inside, pausing to wipe and polish my spectacles before I turned the engine over and drove home, I listened to the faint sounds of water running off the car and dripping down to the pavement.
  • I turned the engine over.
  • We have turned the engine over with the help of a battery.
2Transfer control or management of something to someone else: a plan to turn the pub over to a new manager
More example sentences
  • I don't see the merit of turning any control over to him in the near future.
  • The county can't do the job itself, and plans to turn the hospital over to a private management team.
  • They have decided to dodge responsibility for the company by turning its management over to states and private entities.
transfer, hand over, pass on, give, consign, assign, commit
3Change the function or use of something: the works was turned over to the production of aircraft parts
More example sentences
  • The three cardboard boxes exploded components all over the kitchen work surfaces and into the dining room, where the table was turned over to an assembly bench.
  • The base was turned over to be a civilian operation.
  • A strip of countryside either side of a country road has been turned over to housing.
4 informal Rob a place: what about that girl’s bedroom that got turned over?
5(Of a business) have a turnover of a specified amount: last year the company turned over £12 million
More example sentences
  • He said Concorde, founded 25 years ago which turns over around £3.5 million a year, was enjoying great success in the spooling market.
  • AWG Developments, which turns over in excess of £150m per year, employs around 200 people, mainly in Scotland.
  • This already turns over £45m and employs 80 people.

turn something round (or around)

1Prepare a ship or aircraft for its return journey: cleanliness also shortens the time it takes to turn a ship round
More example sentences
  • Instead of 140 men taking two days to unload and load 16 years ago, a ship nowadays can be turned around in less than a day by fewer than 50 people.
  • Fewer inspections did not necessarily mean a ship could be turned around at a US port faster than before.
2Reverse the previously poor performance of an organization and make it successful: the combination of skills and commitment in a workforce can turn a company round
More example sentences
  • This new appointment is expected to help the firm turn its poor performance around.
  • This is a company which has turned its performance round.
  • The 18-year-old, from Westlea, who has turned her life around with the organisation's help, says she is proof that the project works.

turn up

1Be found, especially by chance, after being lost: all the missing documents had turned up
More example sentences
  • A large number of dodgy documents have turned up over the last month.
  • As soon as it appeared on some bonus CD, it started turning up in ‘file sharing’ sites.
  • And Plato does not appear to be a nickname; it turns up frequently in the period.
be found, be discovered, be located, come to light;
2Put in an appearance; arrive: half the guests failed to turn up
More example sentences
  • It took a while for the food to arrive but we had turned up early and didn't mind sitting in the sunshine.
  • You know how it is, wait for ages for something to arrive and several turn up at once.
  • She failed to turn up and the judge issued the present warrant.
arrive, put in an appearance, make an appearance, appear, be present, present oneself, turn out
informal show up, show, show one's face

turn something up

1Increase the volume or strength of sound, heat, etc. by turning a knob or switch on a device: she turned the sound up
More example sentences
  • I reached over quickly and turned on my stereo, turning the volume knob up, trying to cover up the sound of the clock.
  • They'd turned the sound system up, to compensate for the decorating noise I imagine.
  • One of the best things about helping out at a theatre is getting to turn the sound up to eleven.
increase, raise, amplify, make louder, intensify
2Reveal or discover something: New Yorkers confidently expect the inquiry to turn up nothing
discover, uncover, unearth, bring to light, find, hit on, dig up, ferret out, root out, expose
3Shorten a garment by raising the hem.
Example sentences
  • Turn it up and stitch it.
  • On a sectioned shade, clip the corners at the shade lower edge so they form a miter when the hem is turned up.
  • Sew all vertical seams, then turn the lining up into the skirt and catch it in the waistband.
take up, raise;


Old English tyrnan, turnian (verb), from Latin tornare, from tornus 'lathe', from Greek tornos 'lathe, circular movement'; probably reinforced in Middle English by Old French turner. The noun (Middle English) is partly from Anglo-Norman French tourn, partly from the verb.

  • The origin of Old English turn is Latin tornare ‘to turn’, from tornos, the Greek word for a lathe. The sense ‘a song or other short performance’ developed in the early 18th century from the meaning ‘an opportunity or obligation to do something’, as in ‘It's your turn’, which is medieval. Card games and betting combine to give us a turn-up for the book, ‘a completely unexpected event or occurrence’. Turn-up here refers to the turning up or over of a particular card in a game, while the book is one kept by a bookie to record bets made in a race. The leaf in to turn over a new leaf, ‘to improve your behaviour or performance’, is a sheet of paper in a book, not a part of a plant or tree. A turncoat is a person who deserts one party to join an opposing one. The term dates from the mid 16th century and is said to be a reference to a Duke of Saxony whose land was located between the French and Saxons, who were at war with each other. The Duke wore a reversible coat, one side of which was blue (the Saxon colour) and the other side white (the French colour), so that he could change his display of allegiance quickly should the need arise.

Words that rhyme with turn

adjourn, astern, Berne, burn, churn, concern, discern, earn, fern, fohn, kern, learn, Lucerne, quern, Sauternes, spurn, stern, Sterne, tern, terne, Traherne, urn, Verne, yearn

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: turn

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