Definition of about-turn in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /əbaʊtˈtɛːn/
(also chiefly North American about-face) British


1(Chiefly in military contexts) a turn made so as to face the opposite direction: he did an about-turn and marched out of the tent
More example sentences
  • Brakes squealed as the few cars that happened to travel down that road screeched to a stop and promptly did an about-face, quickly driving in the opposite direction.
  • Then she did an about-face, marched right back into the guy's office, and declared, ‘I have one more thing to say to you: I am your customer.’
  • Their chests swelled with pride as they saluted the general, did an about-face, and marched away exuberantly.
1.1A complete change of opinion or policy: the government made an about-turn over the bill
More example sentences
  • In Germany, the food scare has sparked an about-face on agricultural policy.
  • The party's recent troubles following the policy about-face on the reform of the grassroots financial institutions illustrates the problem.
  • At this crucial period of their lives they were surrounded by people who, in very many cases, undertook a complete about-turn with regard to their social and political views.
change of heart, change of mind, sea change


[no object]
Turn so as to face the opposite direction: suddenly he about-turned and saluted again
More example sentences
  • But she must have said something terribly outrageous, indicated in some obvious way that things weren't altogether normal, because he immediately about-faced and ran in the opposite direction.
  • Hugh about-turned, and headed in the opposite direction to be met with a similar fate.
  • Suddenly she about-faced and grappled him into the undergrowth.


(about turn!)
A military command to make an about-turn.
Example sentences
  • Finally, looking back he said, ‘O soldiers of Kalinjar, right about turn!’


Late 19th century (originally as a military command): shortening of right about turn.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.