turn·​coat ˈtərn-ˌkōt How to pronounce turncoat (audio)
: one who switches to an opposing side or party
specifically : traitor

Examples of turncoat in a Sentence

the plot of the story revolved around the gangster's relentless determination to learn the identity of the turncoat
Recent Examples on the Web Hours before the film was screened at 3 Dollar Bill, a Brooklyn nightclub, a state court judge ruled that the prosecution’s star witness — Mr. Trump’s long-ago fixer and eventual turncoat Michael Cohen — could testify at the upcoming trial despite the former president’s objections. Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, 22 Mar. 2024 Historically, the San Patricios, led by Irish native John Riley, have been valorized as unsung heroes and criticized as turncoats. Sarah Quiñones Wolfson, Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2024 Every member expelled in history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or confederate turncoats guilty of treason. ABC News, 3 Dec. 2023 The Jalisco cartel, known by its initials as the CJNG, is famous for its ruthless treatment of supposed traitors, informants or turncoats. Mark Stevenson, Anchorage Daily News, 7 June 2023 Hanssen faced the death penalty when he was arrested thanks to another turncoat. Ben Brasch, Washington Post, 5 June 2023 There’s a turncoat in MI6 who’s out to expose the Charter. Kaely Monahan, The Arizona Republic, 11 Aug. 2023 Advertisement In the severity of his betrayal, Mr. Hanssen was compared to Aldrich H. Ames, the CIA turncoat who pleaded guilty to espionage and other charges in 1994. Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, 5 June 2023 Revelations of a possible turncoat inside the country’s spy service have coincided with a major political shift in Germany since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, with the German government dropping its long-standing conciliatory policy toward Moscow. Marie Brockling, NBC News, 29 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'turncoat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1570, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of turncoat was in 1570

Dictionary Entries Near turncoat

Cite this Entry

“Turncoat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turncoat. Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


turn·​coat ˈtərn-ˌkōt How to pronounce turncoat (audio)
: a person on one side who goes over to the other

More from Merriam-Webster on turncoat

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