verb \ˈtərn\

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 (something, such as a mechanical device) or the level of (something, such 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 (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>: such as (1) :  to dig or plow so as to bring the lower soil to the surface <turn the compost weekly> (2) :  to make (a garment) over by reversing the material and resewing <turn a collar> (3) :  to invert (something, such as a character, rule, or slug) feet up and face down in setting typeb :  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 (something, such 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 (something, such 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 (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 (money, goods, etc.) 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>: such 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 derangedb (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


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 — The Times Literary Supplement (London)>

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


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 in a sentence

  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 and Etymology 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




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>: such 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 skatingb :  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: such 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: such 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 in a sentence

  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 and Etymology 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

TURN Defined for English Language Learners



verb \ˈtərn\

Definition of turn for English Language Learners

  • : 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




Definition of turn for English Language Learners

  • : 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

TURN Defined for Kids



verb \ˈtərn\

Definition of turn for Students



  1. 1 :  to change in position usually by moving through an arc of a circle <They turned and walked away.> <Turn the pancakes over.>

  2. 2 :  to change course or direction <The road turns to the left.>

  3. 3 :  to move or direct toward or away from something <We turned toward home.>

  4. 4 :  to become or cause to become a certain way <The weather turned leaves red.>

  5. 5 :  1change 1, transform <turn lead into gold>

  6. 6 :  to move or cause to move around a center :  rotate <The earth turns on its axis.>

  7. 7 :  to twist so as to bring about a desired end <Turn the key to unlock the door.>

  8. 8 :  to go around <We turned the corner.>

  9. 9 :  to reach or pass beyond <Soon she will turn ten.>

  10. 10 :  to become or make very unfriendly <We were friends until she turned on me.>

  11. 11 :  to pass from one state to another :  become <The weather turned cold.>

  12. 12 :  execute 2, perform <turn somersaults>

  13. 13 :  to set in another and especially an opposite direction <It's difficult to turn the car on such a narrow street.>

  14. 14 :  1wrench 2 <turn an ankle>

  15. 15 :  1upset 2 <His behavior turns my stomach.>

  16. 16 :  to make an appeal <He turned to a friend for help.>

  17. 17 :  to make or become spoiled <The milk turned.>

  18. 18 :  translate 1

  19. 19 :  to give a rounded form to (as on a lathe)

turn down

  1. 1 :  to lower by using a control <Turn down the heat.>

  2. 2 :  1refuse 1, reject <I turned down the offer.>

  3. 3 :  to fold back or under <Turn down the sheets.>

turn off

  1. 1 :  to stop by using a control <Remember to turn off the alarm.>

  2. 2 :  to change direction <They turned off onto another road.>

turn on

  1. :  to make work by using a control <Turn on the light.>

turn out

  1. 1 :  to prove to be <The noise turned out to be from mice.>

  2. 2 :  to turn off

turn over

  1. :  to give control or responsibility of to someone

turn tail

  1. :  to turn so as to run away

turn up

  1. 1 :  to be found or happen unexpectedly <Don't worry, the key will turn up.>

  2. 2 :  to raise by or as if by using a control <Turn up the volume.>

  3. 3 :  arrive 1




Definition of turn for Students

  1. 1 :  the act of moving about a center <Give the crank another turn.>

  2. 2 :  a change or changing of direction, course, or position <Make a left turn.>

  3. 3 :  a place at which something changes direction <a turn in the road>

  4. 4 :  a period of action or activity :  spell <I had my turn as guard.>

  5. 5 :  proper place in a waiting line or time in a schedule <Take your turn.>

  6. 6 :  a change or changing of the general state or condition <Business took a turn for the better.>

  7. 7 :  an act affecting another <Do a friend a good turn.>

  8. 8 :  a short walk or ride <They took a turn through the park.>

  9. 9 :  a special purpose or need <That will serve the turn.>

  10. 10 :  special quality <a nice turn of phrase>

  11. 11 :  the beginning of a new period of time <the turn of the century>

  12. 12 :  a single circle or loop (as of rope passed around an object)

  13. 13 :  natural or special skill <She has a turn for writing.>

at every turn

  1. :  all the time :  constantly, continuously <She has managed to succeed at every turn.>

by turns

  1. :  one after another

in turn

  1. :  one after the other in order

to a turn

  1. :  precisely right <The turkey was cooked to a turn.>

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb \ˈtərn\

Medical Definition of turn

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

Law Dictionary


intransitive verb

Legal Definition of turn

  1. :  to have a specified decisive factor —used with on <the first of the cases…turned on first amendment issues — K. A. Cohen>

Seen and Heard

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