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verb \ˈtərn\

Simple Definition of turn

  • : to move around a central point

  • : to cause your body or a part of your body to face a different direction

  • : to cause (something or a side of something) to face an opposite or different direction

Full Definition of turn

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  to cause to move around an axis or a center :  make rotate or revolve <turn a wheel> <turn a crank>b (1) :  to cause to move around so as to effect a desired end (as of locking, opening, or shutting) <turned the knob till the door opened> (2) :  to affect or alter the functioning of (as a mechanical device) or the level of (as sound) by such movement <turn the oven to 400°> <turn the music to full volume>c :  to execute or perform by rotating or revolving <turn handsprings>d :  to twist out of line or shape :  wrench <had turned his ankle>

  3. 2a (1) :  to cause to change position by moving through an arc of a circle <turned her chair to the fire> (2) :  to cause to move around a center so as to show another side of <turn the page> (3) :  to cause (as a scale) to move so as to register weightb :  to revolve mentally :  think over :  ponder

  4. 3a :  to reverse the sides or surfaces of :  invert <turn pancakes> <turn the shirt inside out>: as (1) :  to dig or plow so as to bring the lower soil to the surface <turn the compost weekly> (2) :  to make (as a garment) over by reversing the material and resewing <turn a collar> (3) :  to invert feet up and face down (as a character, rule, or slug) in setting type b :  to reverse or upset the order or disposition of <everything was turned topsy-turvy>c :  to disturb or upset the mental balance of :  derange, unsettle <a mind turned by grief>d :  to set in another especially contrary direction

  5. 4a :  to bend or change the course of :  divert <a battle that turned the tide of history>b :  to cause to retreat <used fire hoses to turn the mob>c :  to alter the drift, tendency, or expected result ofd :  to bend a course around or about :  round <turned the corner at full speed>

  6. 5a (1) :  to direct or point (as the face) in a specified way or direction (2) :  to present by a change in direction or position <turning his back to his guests>b :  to bring to bear (as by aiming, pointing, or focusing) :  train <turned the light into the dark doorway> <turned a questioning eye toward her>c :  to direct (as the attention or mind) toward or away from somethingd :  to direct the employment of :  apply, devote <turned his skills to the service of humankind>e (1) :  to cause to rebound or recoil <turns their argument against them> (2) :  to make antagonistic :  prejudice <turn a child against its mother>f (1) :  to cause to go in a particular direction <turned our steps homeward> (2) :  drive, send <turn cows to pasture> <turning hunters off his land> (3) :  to convey or direct out of an inverted receptacle <turn the mixture into a baking dish>

  7. 6a (1) :  to make acid or sour (2) :  to change the color of (as foliage)b (1) :  convert, transform <turn defeat into victory> (2) :  translate, paraphrasec :  to cause to become of a specified nature or appearance <turned him into a frog> <embarrassment turned her face red>d :  to exchange for something else <turn coins into paper money>e :  to cause to defect to another side

  8. 7a :  to shape especially in a rounded form by applying a cutting tool while revolving in a latheb :  to give a rounded form to by any means <turn the heel of a sock>c :  to shape or mold artistically, gracefully, or neatly <a well turned phrase>

  9. 8 :  to make a fold, bend, or curve in:a :  to form by bending <turn a lead pipe>b :  to cause (the edge of a blade) to bend back or over :  blunt, dull

  10. 9a :  to keep (as money or goods) moving; specifically :  to dispose of (a stock) to make room for anotherb :  to gain in the course of business <turning a quick profit>c :  to make use of <turned her education to advantage>d :  to carry to completion :  pull off <turned a double play> <turn a deal>

  11. 10 :  to engage in (an act of prostitution) <turn tricks>

  12. intransitive verb
  13. 1a :  to move around on an axis or through an arc of a circle :  rotateb :  to become giddy or dizzy :  spin <heights always made his head turn>c (1) :  to have as a decisive factor :  hinge <the argument turns on a point of logic> <the outcome of the game turned on an interception> (2) :  to have a center (as of interest) in something specified <the discussion turned on the overall worth of the project> (3) :  to become focused on something specified <the conversation turned to baseball>

  14. 2a :  to direct one's courseb (1) :  to reverse a course or direction <the tide has turned> (2) :  to have a reactive usually adverse effectc :  to take a different course or direction <turned toward home> <the main road turns sharply to the right>

  15. 3a :  to change position (as of one's head) so as to face another way <everyone turned to stare>b :  to face toward or away from someone or something <flowers turn toward the light>c :  to change one's attitude or reverse one's course of action to one of opposition or hostility <felt the world had turned against him>d :  to make a sudden violent assault especially without evident cause <dogs turning on their owners>

  16. 4a :  to direct one's attention to or away from someone or somethingb (1) :  to change one's religion (2) :  to go over to another side or party :  defectc :  to have recourse :  refer, resort <turned to a friend for help> <turned to his notes for the exact figures>d :  to direct one's efforts or activity :  devote or apply oneself <turned to the study of the law> <turned to a life of crime>

  17. 5a :  to become changed, altered, or transformed <the weather turned>: as (1) archaic :  to become different (2) :  to change color <the leaves have turned> (3) :  to become sour, rancid, or tainted <the milk had turned> (4) :  to be variable or inconstant (5) :  to become mentally unbalanced :  become deranged b (1) :  to pass from one state to another :  change <water had turned to ice> (2) :  become, grow <his hair had turned gray> <the weather turned bad> <just turned twenty> (3) :  to become someone or something specified by change from another state :  change into <turn pro> <doctors turned authors> (4) :  to change by the passage of time <days turned into weeks and months>

  18. 6 :  to become curved or bent (as from pressure); especially :  to become blunted by bending <the edge of the knife had turned>

  19. 7 :  to operate a lathe

  20. 8 of merchandise :  to be stocked and disposed of :  change hands

turn·able play \ˈtər-nə-bəl\ adjective
turn a blind eye
  1. :  to refuse to see :  be oblivious <might turn a blind eye to the use of violence — Arthur Krock>

turn a deaf ear
  1. :  to refuse to listen

turn a hair
  1. :  to give a sign of distress or disturbance <did not turn a hair when told of the savage murder — Times Literary Supplement>

turn color
  1. 1 :  to become of a different color

  2. 2a :  blush, flushb :  to grow pale

turn heads
  1. :  to attract favorable attention <the car's sleek design is bound to turn heads>

turn loose
  1. 1a :  to set free <turned loose the captured animal>b :  to free from all restraints <turned them loose with a pile of theme paper to write whatever they liked — Elizabeth P. Schafer>

  2. 2 :  to fire off :  discharge

  3. 3 :  to open fire

turn one's back on
  1. 1 :  reject, deny <would be turning one's back on history — Pius Walsh>

  2. 2 :  forsake <turned his back on his obligations>

turn one's hand or turn a hand
  1. :  to set to work :  apply oneself

turn one's head
  1. :  to cause to become infatuated or conceited <success had not turned his head>

turn one's stomach
  1. :  to disgust completely :  nauseate <the foul smell turned his stomach>

turn tail
  1. :  to turn away so as to flee

turn the other cheek
  1. :  to respond to injury or unkindness with patience :  forgo retaliation

turn the tables
  1. :  to bring about a reversal of the relative conditions or fortunes of two contending parties

turn the trick
  1. :  to bring about the desired result or effect

turn turtle

Examples of turn

  1. He turned the key and opened the door.

  2. She slowly turned the doorknob.

  3. Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left.

  4. Someone turned the switch and the lights came on.

  5. They turned and walked away.

  6. She turned to leave—but stopped.

  7. He turned aside to let me pass.

  8. The patient turned onto his side.

  9. The photographer asked her to turn slightly to her left.

  10. He turned himself around to see the back of his shirt in the mirror.

Origin of turn

Middle English; partly from Old English tyrnan & turnian to turn, from Medieval Latin tornare, from Latin, to turn on a lathe, from tornus lathe, from Greek tornos; partly from Anglo-French turner, tourner to turn, from Medieval Latin tornare; akin to Latin terere to rub — more at throw

First Known Use: before 12th century




Simple Definition of turn

  • : an opportunity or responsibility to do or use something before or after other people

  • : an act of turning something around a central point

  • : an act of changing the direction that someone or something is facing or moving in

Full Definition of turn

  1. 1a :  the action or an act of turning about a center or axis :  revolution, rotationb :  any of various rotating or pivoting movements in dancing or gymnastics

  2. 2a :  the action or an act of giving or taking a different direction :  change of course or posture <an illegal left turn>: as (1) :  a drill maneuver in which troops in mass formation change direction without preserving alignment (2) :  any of various shifts of direction in skiing (3) :  an interruption of a curve in figure skating b :  deflection, deviationc :  the action or an act of turning so as to face in the opposite direction :  reversal of posture or course <an about turn> <the turn of the tide>d :  a change effected by turning over to another side <a turn of the cards>e :  a place at which something turns, turns off, or turns back :  bend, curve

  3. 3 :  a short trip out and back or round about <took a turn through the park>

  4. 4 :  an act or deed affecting another especially when incidental or unexpected <one good turn deserves another>

  5. 5a :  a period of action or activity :  go, spell <took a turn at the piano>b :  a place, time, or opportunity accorded an individual or unit of a series in simple succession or in a scheduled order <waiting her turn in line>c :  a period or tour of duty :  shiftd :  a short act or piece (as for a variety show); also :  public appearance :  performance <makes frequent guest star turns>e (1) :  an event in any gambling game after which bets are settled (2) :  the order of the last three cards in faro —used in the phrase call the turn

  6. 6 :  something that revolves around a center: asa (1) :  lathe (2) :  a catch or latch for a cupboard or cabinet door operated by turning a handleb :  a musical ornament consisting of a group of four or more notes that wind about the principal note by including the notes next above and next below

  7. 7 :  a special purpose or requirement —used chiefly in the phrase serve one's turn

  8. 8a :  an act of changing :  alteration, modification <a nasty turn in the weather>b :  a change in tendency, trend, or drift <hoped for a turn in his luck> <a turn for the better> <an unexpected turn of events>c :  the beginning of a new period of time :  the time when one period changes to the next <the turn of the century>

  9. 9a :  distinctive quality or characterb :  a fashioning of language or arrangement of words :  manner of expression <skillful turns of phrase>c :  the shape or mold in which something is fashioned :  cast

  10. 10a :  the state or manner of being coiled or twistedb :  a single round (as of rope passed about an object or of wire wound on a core)

  11. 11 :  natural or special ability or aptitude :  bent, inclination <a turn for logic> <an optimistic turn of mind>

  12. 12 :  a special twist, construction, or interpretation <gave the old yarn a new turn>

  13. 13a :  a disordering spell or attack (as of illness, faintness, or dizziness)b :  a nervous start or shock <snuck up on her and gave her quite a turn>

  14. 14a :  a complete transaction involving a purchase and sale of securities; also :  a profit from such a transactionb :  turnover 7b

  15. 15 :  something turned or to be turned: asa :  a character or slug inverted in setting typeb :  a piece of type placed bottom up

at every turn
  1. :  on every occasion :  continually <they opposed her at every turn>

by turns
  1. 1 :  one after another in regular succession

  2. 2 :  variously, alternately <a book that is by turns pedantic, delightful, and infuriating>

in turn
  1. :  in due order of succession

on the turn
  1. :  at the point of turning <tide is on the turn>

out of turn
  1. 1 :  not in due order of succession <play out of turn>

  2. 2 :  at a wrong time or place and usually imprudently <talking out of turn>

to a turn
  1. :  to perfection

Examples of turn

  1. You have to wait your turn in line.

  2. Is it my turn yet?

  3. Give the wheel another turn.

  4. He tightened the screw with one last turn.

  5. With a turn of the switch, the lights came back on.

  6. Take a left-hand turn at the next intersection.

  7. a quick turn of her head

Origin of turn

Middle English; partly from Anglo-French tur, tourn turning, circuit (from turner to turn); partly from Middle English turnen to turn

First Known Use: 13th century

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb \ˈtərn\

Medical Definition of turn

  1. :  to injure by twisting or wrenching <turned his ankle>

Seen and Heard

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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