Definition of churn in English:

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Pronunciation: /tʃəːn/


Image of churn
1A machine for making butter by shaking milk or cream.
Example sentences
  • Mothers made butter from milk, they mixed the milk in a butter churn.
  • Some of them saw us and paused at their chores, resting behind their ploughs or looking up from butter churns and gardens.
  • In the center of the room stands an enormous stainless steel churn, a giant horizontal spatula on wheels to remove the butter from the churn, and a boat, or trough, into which the spatula unloads its haul.
2British A large metal container for milk: the fresh creamy milk sat in a churn in the kitchen a milk churn
More example sentences
  • The milk was offered from a metal churn and the ladles hung from it.
  • When he had finished, he poured the milk into the big churns and washed the buckets.
  • I started when I was nine years old going round with my father with a horse and float with milk churns.
3 short for churn rate.


[with object]
1Shake (milk or cream) in a machine in order to produce butter: the cream is ripened before it is churned
More example sentences
  • The sample of the sound of milk being churned into butter takes on an eerie sound that is more like a pack of marching troopers than a regular act of rural domesticity.
  • When this milk was churned, the concentration of pesticides increased; that might be the butter you spread on toast.
  • If the gold ore is not refined one will not obtain the pure gold, if the milk is not churned one will not obtain butter, and if the sesame seed is not pounded one will not produce sesame oil.
stir, agitate;
beat, whip, whisk
1.1Produce (butter) by churning milk or cream: the women were churning butter and making cheese
More example sentences
  • McDermott was the lady who churned the butter at Rathscanlon.
  • Women churned butter, baked potato bread and poured Irish coffees.
  • She was raised on a rustic Tyrolian farm where she learned to churn butter, bake bread, and store provisions for winter.
2(With reference to liquid) move or cause to move about vigorously: [no object]: the seas churned figurative her stomach was churning at the thought of the ordeal [with object]: in high winds most of the loch is churned up
More example sentences
  • It churned up the sea even more, and beat the yellow rain macs of the fishermen tying down tarpaulins.
  • His hands were quivering, and his stomach felt as though it were churning and moving.
  • I write this my stomach is churning a little with tension, remembering how it felt.
be turbulent, heave, boil, swirl, toss, seethe, foam, froth
literary roil
disturb, stir up, agitate;
literary roil
2.1Break up the surface of (an area of ground): the earth had been churned up where vehicles had passed through
More example sentences
  • He added grass verges in the area were churned up and were disgusting and wanted to know what Colchester Council was spending taxpayers' money on.
  • Mr Langton said: ‘The weather is so bad at the moment that if we try to move the car, it will churn the field up and make a real mess of the pitch.’
  • The shelling churned the landscape into a sea of mud and craters.
3(Of a broker) encourage frequent turnover of (investments) in order to generate commission: these brokers churn the client’s portfolio to generate an income for themselves
More example sentences
  • Managers may churn their accounts to generate more soft dollars in order to buy services such as stock research.
  • The broker appears to have churned the account and Donald let him do so.
  • It was the kind of fairy tale brokers tell their clients while churning their accounts.

Phrasal verbs

churn something out

Produce something mechanically and in large quantities: artists continued to churn out uninteresting works
More example sentences
  • Far too often today historical works are churned out in unreadable academic jargon.
  • Even as new applications are churned out, old ones need maintaining and even newer ones developing.
  • Between 1942 and '45, a total of 93 ships were churned out here - roughly one every three weeks.
produce, make, turn out
informal crank out, bang out


Old English cyrin, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Low German kerne and Old Norse kirna.

Words that rhyme with churn

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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: churn

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