\ˈtərn \
turned; turning; turns

Definition of turn 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

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

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 weight

b : to revolve mentally : think over : ponder

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 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

4a : to bend or change the course of : divert a battle that turned the tide of history

b : to bend a course around or about : round turned the corner at full speed

c : to cause to retreat used fire hoses to turn the mob

d : to alter the drift, tendency, or expected result of

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 direct (something, such as the attention or mind) toward or away from something

c : to direct the employment of : apply, devote turned his skills to the service of humankind

d(1) : to cause to rebound or recoil turns their argument against them

(2) : to make antagonistic : prejudice turn a child against its mother

e(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

f : to bring to bear (as by aiming, pointing, or focusing) : train turned the light into the dark doorway turned a questioning eye toward her

6a(1) : to make acid or sour

(2) : to change the color of (foliage)

b(1) : convert, transform turn defeat into victory

(2) : translate, paraphrase

c : 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

7a : to shape especially in a rounded form by applying a cutting tool while revolving in a lathe

b : 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

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

9a : to gain in the course of business turning a quick profit

b : to keep (money, goods, etc.) moving specifically : to dispose of (a stock) to make room for another

c : to make use of turned her education to advantage

d : to carry to completion : pull off turned a double play turn a deal

10 : to engage in (an act of prostitution) turn tricks

intransitive verb

1a : to move around on an axis or through an arc of a circle : rotate

b(1) : to become focused on something specified the conversation turned to baseball

(2) : to have as a decisive factor : hinge the argument turns on a point of logic the outcome of the game turned on an interception

(3) : to have a center (as of interest) in something specified the discussion turned on the overall worth of the project

c : to become giddy or dizzy : spin heights always made his head turn

2a : to direct one's course

b(1) : to reverse a course or direction the tide has turned

(2) : to have a reactive usually adverse effect

c : to take a different course or direction turned toward home the main road turns sharply to the right

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

4a : to direct one's attention to or away from someone or something

b : to have recourse : refer, resort turned to a friend for help turned to his notes for the exact figures

c : to direct one's efforts or activity : devote or apply oneself turned to the study of the law turned to a life of crime

d(1) : to change one's religion

(2) : to go over to another side or party : defect

5a : to become changed, altered, or transformed the weather turned : such as

(1) : to change color the leaves have turned

(2) : to become sour, rancid, or tainted the milk had turned

(3) : to be variable or inconstant

(4) : to become mentally unbalanced : become deranged

(5) archaic : to become different

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

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

7 : to operate a lathe

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

turn a blind eye

: to refuse to see : be oblivious might turn a blind eye to the use of violence— Arthur Krock

turn a deaf ear

: to refuse to listen

turn a hair

: to give a sign of distress or disturbance did not turn a hair when told of the savage murderThe Times Literary Supplement (London)

turn color

1 : to become of a different color

2a : blush, flush

b : to grow pale

turn heads

: to attract favorable attention the car's sleek design is bound to turn heads

turn loose

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 : to fire off : discharge

3 : to open fire

turn one's back on

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

2 : forsake turned his back on his obligations

turn one's hand or turn a hand

: to set to work : apply oneself

turn one's head

: to cause to become infatuated or conceited success had not turned his head

turn one's stomach

: to disgust completely : nauseate the foul smell turned his stomach

turn tail

: to turn away so as to flee

turn the other cheek

: to respond to injury or unkindness with patience : forgo retaliation

turn the tables

: to bring about a reversal of the relative conditions or fortunes of two contending parties

turn the trick

: to bring about the desired result or effect

turn turtle



Definition of turn (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the action or an act of turning about a center or axis : revolution, rotation

b : any of various rotating or pivoting movements in dancing or gymnastics

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 skating

b : a place at which something turns, turns off, or turns back : bend, curve

c : deflection, deviation

d : 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

e : a change effected by turning over to another side a turn of the cards

3 : an act or deed affecting another especially when incidental or unexpected one good turn deserves another

4a : 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

b : a period of action or activity : go, spell took a turn at the piano

c : a period or tour of duty : shift

d : 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

5a : 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

6a : a fashioning of language or arrangement of words : manner of expression skillful turns of phrase

b : distinctive quality or character

c : the shape or mold in which something is fashioned : cast

7 : a short trip out and back or round about took a turn through the park

8 : something that revolves around a center: such as

a(1) : lathe

(2) : a catch or latch for a cupboard or cabinet door operated by turning a handle

b : 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

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

10a : the state or manner of being coiled or twisted

b : a single round (as of rope passed about an object or of wire wound on a core)

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

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

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

14a : a complete transaction involving a purchase and sale of securities also : a profit from such a transaction

b : turnover sense 1a

15 : something turned or to be turned: such as

a : a character or slug inverted in setting type

b : a piece of type placed bottom up

at every turn

: on every occasion : continually they opposed her at every turn

by turns

1 : one after another in regular succession

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

in turn

: in due order of succession

on the turn

: at the point of turning tide is on the turn

out of turn

1 : not in due order of succession play out of turn

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

to a turn

: to perfection

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Other Words from turn


turnable \ ˈtər-​nə-​bəl \ adjective

Examples of turn in a Sentence


He turned the key and opened the door. She slowly turned the doorknob. Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left. Someone turned the switch and the lights came on. They turned and walked away. She turned to leave—but stopped. He turned aside to let me pass. The patient turned onto his side. The photographer asked her to turn slightly to her left. He turned himself around to see the back of his shirt in the mirror.


You have to wait your turn in line. Is it my turn yet? Give the wheel another turn. He tightened the screw with one last turn. With a turn of the switch, the lights came back on. Take a left-hand turn at the next intersection. a quick turn of her head
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While Chicago remains the Democratic epicenter in Illinois, Democrats are also hoping to turn four red congressional districts blue this year. Tara Golshan, Vox.com, "Illinois results for every midterm race," 8 Nov. 2018 The Democratic candidate, Josh Harder, is trying to oust a GOP incumbent in a campaign that turned into something of a referendum on Silicon Valley. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Josh Harder is in a dead heat in his congressional race to become the only venture capitalist in the House of Representatives," 7 Nov. 2018 The female of the species is known for stinging unsuspecting cockroaches with a nasty venom that turns the roach into her docile slave. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Cockroaches deliver karate kicks to avoid being turned into “zombies”," 3 Nov. 2018 Here are 5 Halloween costumes (or just cute outfits TBH) that will turn you into one stylish witch. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "5 Last-Minute "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Halloween Costumes That Are Totally Spellbinding," 30 Oct. 2018 Connie Britton is playing Debra Newell, the successful interior designer who met John Meehan on the Internet and began a relationship with him that turned ugly. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Everything We Know About Bravo's TV Adaptation of Dirty John," 15 Oct. 2018 Born with esotropia, a condition that turns the eyes outwards, Lady Louise had difficulties with her vision growing up. Chanel Vargas, Town & Country, "Who Is the Queen's Youngest Granddaughter, Lady Louise Windsor," 12 Oct. 2018 Motown legend Smokey Robinson followed later with a speech that turned into song. Fox News, "Aretha Franklin funeral's bishop mistakes Ariana Grande's name for 'new something at Taco Bell'," 2 Oct. 2018 Here’s their list of the top five mistakes that will turn your cat eye into raccoon eyes—and how to fix them. 1. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "5 Mistakes You’re Making When Applying Liquid Eyeliner," 26 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The case took a turn when a second person in Oceanside tried to commit identity theft against the same man whose identity Anduaga had stolen in 1983. Alex Riggins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Man who stole government benefits for 37 years is sentenced to 37 months in federal prison," 14 July 2018 Back in May, Serena Williams attended the royal wedding to support her friend Meghan Markle, and now, Meghan and her sister-in-law Kate Middleton are supporting Serena in turn. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Support Serena Williams at Wimbledon," 14 July 2018 Nur Jahan, the 20th wife of the Emperor Jahangir, has, in turn, met with her share of fishy Tacitean innuendo. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘Empress’ Review: Light of the Mughal World," 13 July 2018 Russia, in turn, would promise to limit the Iranian presence near Syria’s borders with Jordan and Israel. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," 13 July 2018 An actor armed with an airsoft gun fires at officers who, in turn, must disable the shooter amid the sounds of gunshots and the smell of gunpowder. Annie Martin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "New UCF police chief talks about preventing shootings, sex crimes," 13 July 2018 Prime Minister May rightly is committed to maintaining open borders with Ireland, which in turn were crucial to the 1998 peace accords Britain and Ireland — with the help of U.S. leaders — achieved in Northern Ireland. Arthur I. Cyr, Lake County News-Sun, "Cyr: Britain’s prime minister takes charge of cabinet," 13 July 2018 Our farmers complained in turn, and U.S. politicians slapped at 25 percent tariff on products including French brandy and German buses. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Trump's trade war could threaten US pickup production and jobs," 13 July 2018 That, in turn, could undermine the financial feasibility of major residential, commercial, and infrastructure developments here. Adam Vaccaro, BostonGlobe.com, "Tariffs are making it more expensive to build in Boston — and that could push rents even higher," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'turn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of turn


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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 entry 1


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

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Statistics for turn

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for turn

The first known use of turn was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for turn



English Language Learners Definition of turn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of turn (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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


\ˈtərn \
turned; turning

Kids Definition of turn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

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

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

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

5 : change entry 1 sense 1, transform turn lead into gold

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

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

8 : to go around We turned the corner.

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

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

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

12 : execute sense 2, perform turn somersaults

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

14 : wrench entry 1 sense 2 turn an ankle

15 : upset entry 1 sense 2 His behavior turns my stomach.

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

17 : to make or become spoiled The milk turned.

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

turn down

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

2 : refuse entry 1 sense 1, reject I turned down the offer.

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

turn off

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

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

turn on

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

turn out

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

2 : to turn off

turn over

: to give control or responsibility of to someone

turn tail

: to turn so as to run away

turn up

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

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



Kids Definition of turn (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 : special quality a nice turn of phrase

11 : the beginning of a new period of time the turn of the century

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

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

at every turn

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

by turns

: one after another

in turn

: one after the other in order

to a turn

: precisely right The turkey was cooked to a turn.

\ˈtərn \

Medical Definition of turn 

: to injure by twisting or wrenching turned his ankle

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Legal Definition of turn 

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on turn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for turn

Spanish Central: Translation of turn

Nglish: Translation of turn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of turn for Arabic Speakers

Comments on turn

What made you want to look up turn? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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