Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cause to move around an axis or center; cause to rotate or revolve.
  • transitive v. To cause to move around in order to achieve a result, such as opening, closing, tightening, or loosening: turn the key; turn a screw.
  • transitive v. To alter or control the functioning of (a mechanical device, for example) by the use of a rotating or similar movement: turned the iron to a hotter setting.
  • transitive v. To perform or accomplish by rotating or revolving: turn a somersault.
  • transitive v. To change the position of so that the underside becomes the upper side: turn the steak; turn a page.
  • transitive v. To spade or plow (soil) to bring the undersoil to the surface.
  • transitive v. To reverse and resew the material of (a collar, for example).
  • transitive v. To revolve in the mind; meditate on; ponder.
  • transitive v. To give a rounded form to (wood, for example) by rotating against a cutting tool.
  • transitive v. To give a rounded shape to (clay, for example) by rotating and shaping with the hands or tools.
  • transitive v. To give a rounded form to: turn a heel in knitting a sock.
  • transitive v. To give distinctive, artistic, or graceful form to: "They know precisely how to turn a dramatic line or phrase that is guaranteed to make the evening news” ( William Safire).
  • transitive v. To change the position of by traversing an arc of a circle; pivot: turned his chair toward the speaker.
  • transitive v. To present in a specified direction by rotating or pivoting: turn one's face to the wall.
  • transitive v. To cause (a scale) to move up or down so as to register weight: Even a feather will turn a delicate scale.
  • transitive v. To fold, bend, or twist (something).
  • transitive v. To change the position or disposition of by folding, bending, or twisting: Turn the design right side up on your jacket buttons. Turn the hat inside out.
  • transitive v. To make a bend or curve in: strong enough to turn a bar of steel.
  • transitive v. To blunt or dull (the edge of a cutting instrument).
  • transitive v. To injure by twisting: turn an ankle.
  • transitive v. To upset or make nauseated: That story turns my stomach.
  • transitive v. To change the direction or course of: turn the car to the left.
  • transitive v. To divert or deflect: turn a stampede.
  • transitive v. To reverse the course of; cause to retreat: "Then turn your forces from this paltry siege/And stir them up against a mightier task” ( Shakespeare).
  • transitive v. To make a course around or about: turn a corner.
  • transitive v. To change the purpose, intention, or content of by persuasion or influence: Her speech turned my thinking.
  • transitive v. To change the order or disposition of; unsettle: "Sudden prosperity had turned [his] head” ( Thomas Macaulay).
  • transitive v. To aim or focus: turn one's gaze to the sky; turned the camera on the speaker.
  • transitive v. To devote or apply (oneself, for example) to something: She turned herself to law.
  • transitive v. To cause to act or go against; make antagonistic: The scandal turned public opinion against the candidate.
  • transitive v. To cause to go in a specific direction; direct: They turned their steps toward home.
  • transitive v. To send, drive, or let go: turn the bully out of the bar; turned the dog loose.
  • transitive v. To pour, let fall, or otherwise release (contents) from or into a receptacle: Turn the dough onto a floured board.
  • transitive v. To cause to take on a specified character, nature, identity, or appearance; change or transform. Used with to or into: water that had been turned to ice; turn a rundown house into a show place.
  • transitive v. To make sour; ferment: Lack of refrigeration turned the milk.
  • transitive v. To affect or change the color of: Autumn turns the green leaves golden.
  • transitive v. To exchange; convert. Used with to or into: turns her singing talent into extra money.
  • transitive v. To keep in circulation; sell and restock: We turned a great deal of merchandise during the holidays.
  • transitive v. To make use of: turned the situation to our advantage.
  • transitive v. To get by buying and selling: turn a fair profit.
  • transitive v. To perform successfully; complete: turn a double play.
  • transitive v. Slang To perform (an act of prostitution): turning tricks.
  • intransitive v. To move around an axis or center; rotate or revolve.
  • intransitive v. To have a sensation of revolving or whirling, especially as a result of dizziness or giddiness.
  • intransitive v. To change position from side to side or back and forth: I tossed and turned all night.
  • intransitive v. To progress through pages so as to arrive at a given place: Please turn to page 31.
  • intransitive v. To operate a lathe.
  • intransitive v. To be formed on a lathe: a softwood that turns easily.
  • intransitive v. To direct one's way or course: The truck turned into the gas station. Turn off the highway at the next exit.
  • intransitive v. To change or reverse one's way, course, or direction: Too tired to go farther, we turned toward home.
  • intransitive v. To have a specific reaction or effect, especially when adverse.
  • intransitive v. To change one's actions or attitudes adversely; become hostile or antagonistic: The peasants turned against the cruel king.
  • intransitive v. To attack suddenly and violently with no apparent motive: The lion turned on the animal trainer.
  • intransitive v. To channel one's attention, interest, or thought toward or away from something: "In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” ( Tennyson).
  • intransitive v. To devote or apply oneself to something, as to a field of study: Unsuccessful in math, the student turned to biology.
  • intransitive v. To convert to a religion.
  • intransitive v. To switch one's loyalty from one side or party to another.
  • intransitive v. To have recourse to a person or thing for help, support, or information.
  • intransitive v. To depend on something for success or failure; hinge: "The election would turn not on ideology but on competence” ( George F. Will).
  • intransitive v. To change so as to be; become: His hair turned gray. I am a lawyer turned novelist.
  • intransitive v. To change; become transformed. Used with to or into: The sky turned to pink at dawn. The night turned into day.
  • intransitive v. To reach and pass (a certain age, for example): My niece has turned two.
  • intransitive v. To become sour: The milk will turn if you don't refrigerate it.
  • intransitive v. To change color: The leaves have turned.
  • intransitive v. To be stocked and sold: This merchandise will turn easily.
  • intransitive v. To become dull or blunt by bending back. Used of the edge of a cutting instrument.
  • n. The act of turning or the condition of being turned; rotation or revolution.
  • n. A change of direction, motion, or position: Make a left turn at the corner.
  • n. A place, as in a road or path, where a change in direction occurs; a curve: a sharp turn in the road.
  • n. A departure or deviation, as in a trend: a strange turn of events.
  • n. A point marking the end of one period of time and the beginning of the next: the turn of the century.
  • n. A chance or opportunity.
  • n. One of a series of such opportunities accorded people in succession or in scheduled order: waiting for her next turn at bat.
  • n. A period of participation: a turn at wrestling.
  • n. An attack of illness or severe nervousness.
  • n. Informal A momentary shock or scare: I had quite a turn when I heard the crash.
  • n. A characteristic mood, style, or habit; a natural inclination: an inquisitive turn of mind.
  • n. A propensity or adeptness: She has a turn for carpentry.
  • n. A distinctive, graceful, or artistic expression or arrangement of words: the poetic turn of a phrase.
  • n. A movement or development in a particular direction: a turn for the worse.
  • n. A variation of a given kind or type: "His muse occasionally takes a humorous and satirical turn” ( Albert C. Baugh).
  • n. A deed or action having a good or bad effect on another: "He thought some friend had done him an ill turn” ( Stephen Crane).
  • n. Advantage or purpose: It served his turn.
  • n. A short walk or excursion out and back: took a turn in the park.
  • n. A distortion in shape.
  • n. The condition of being twisted or wound.
  • n. A winding of one thing about another.
  • n. A single wind or convolution, as of wire on a spool.
  • n. Something that winds or turns around a center axis.
  • n. Music A figure or ornament, usually consisting of four or more notes in rapid succession and including the principal note, the one a degree above it, and the one a degree below it.
  • n. A brief theatrical act or stage appearance.
  • n. A transaction on the stock market involving both a sale and a purchase.
  • n. South Atlantic U.S. The amount that can be carried in the arms in one load: a turn of firewood.
  • turn away To send away; dismiss: turned away the clerk.
  • turn away To repel: The poor location of the house turned away prospective buyers.
  • turn away To avert; deflect: turned away all criticism.
  • turn back To reverse one's direction of motion: stopped on the road and had to turn back.
  • turn back To drive back and away: turned back the uninvited comers.
  • turn back To halt the advance of: turned back the advancing army.
  • turn back To fold down: Turn back the page's corner to save your place in the book.
  • turn down To diminish the speed, volume, intensity, or flow of: Turn down the radio, please.
  • turn down To reject or refuse, as a person, advice, or a suggestion: turned down the invitation.
  • turn down To fold or be capable of folding down: turn a collar down; a collar that turns down.
  • turn in To hand in; give over: turned in the final exam.
  • turn in To inform on or deliver: The criminal turned herself in.
  • turn in To produce: turns in a consistent performance every day.
  • turn in Informal To go to bed: I turned in early last night.
  • turn off To stop the operation, activity, or flow of; shut off: turned off the television.
  • turn off To affect with dislike, displeasure, or revulsion: That song really turns me off.
  • turn off To affect with boredom: The play turned the audience off.
  • turn off To lose or cause to lose interest; withdraw: turning off to materialism.
  • turn off To cease paying attention to: The student turned off the boring lecture and daydreamed.
  • turn off To divert; deflect.
  • turn off Chiefly British To dismiss (an employee).
  • turn on To cause to begin the operation, activity, or flow of: Turn on the light bulb.
  • turn on To begin to display, employ, or exude: turn on the charm.
  • turn on To take or cause to take a mind-altering drug, especially for the first time.
  • turn on To be or cause to become interested, pleasurably excited, or stimulated. Often used with to: My aunt turned me on to jazz. She turned on to surfing this summer.
  • turn on To excite or become excited sexually.
  • turn out To shut off: turned out the lights.
  • turn out To arrive or assemble, as for a public event or entertainment: Many protesters have turned out.
  • turn out To produce, as by a manufacturing process; make: an assembly line turning out cars.
  • turn out To be found to be, as after experience or trial: The rookie turned out to be the team's best hitter.
  • turn out To end up; result: The cake turned out beautifully.
  • turn out To equip; outfit: troops that were turned out lavishly
  • turn out Informal To get out of bed.
  • turn out To evict; expel: The tenants were turned out.
  • turn over To bring the bottom to the top or vice versa; invert.
  • turn over To shift the position of, as by rolling from one side to the other.
  • turn over To shift one's position by rolling from one side to the other.
  • turn over To rotate; cycle: The engine turned over but wouldn't start.
  • turn over To think about; consider: turned over the problem in her mind.
  • turn over To transfer to another; surrender: turned over the illegal funds.
  • turn over Sports To lose possession of (the ball).
  • turn over To do business to the extent or amount of: turn over a million dollars a year.
  • turn over To seem to lurch or heave convulsively: My stomach turned over.
  • turn to To begin work: If you quit dawdling and just turn to, your chores will be done soon.
  • turn up To increase the speed, volume, intensity, or flow of: Turn up the radio.
  • turn up To find: She turned up the missing keys under her briefcase.
  • turn up To be found: The papers will turn up sooner or later.
  • turn up To make an appearance; arrive: Many old friends turned up at the reunion.
  • turn up To fold or be capable of folding up: turning up his cuffs; cuffs that will turn up.
  • turn up To happen unexpectedly: Something turned up, so I couldn't go.
  • turn up To be evident: a sculptor whose name turns up in the art circles.
  • idiom at every turn In every place; at every moment.
  • idiom by turns One after another; alternately: "From the ... testimony emerges a man by turns devious and honest, vulgar and gallant, scatterbrained and shrewd” ( Life).
  • idiom in turn In the proper order or sequence.
  • idiom out of turn Not in the proper order or sequence.
  • idiom out of turn At an inappropriate time or in an inappropriate manner: The student was reprimanded for speaking out of turn.
  • idiom to a turn To a precise degree; perfectly: The roast was done to a turn.
  • idiom turn a blind eye To refuse to see or recognize something: turned a blind eye to tax fraud.
  • idiom turn a deaf ear To refuse to listen to or hear something: turned a deaf ear to the protests.
  • idiom turn a hair To become afraid or upset: didn't turn a hair during the crisis.
  • idiom turn (one's) back on To deny; reject.
  • idiom turn (one's) back on To abandon; forsake.
  • idiom turn (one's) hand To apply oneself, as to a task: turned her hand to writing the report.
  • idiom turn (one's) head To cause to become infatuated.
  • idiom turn (one's) head To cause to become egotistical and conceited: Success has turned his head.
  • idiom turn over a new leaf To change, as one's attitude or conduct, for the better.
  • idiom turn tail To run away.
  • idiom the To reach and surpass a midpoint or milestone.
  • idiom turn the other cheek To respond to insult or injury by patiently eschewing retaliation.
  • idiom turn the scales To offset the balance of a situation.
  • idiom turn the tables To reverse a situation and gain the upper hand.
  • idiom turn turtle To capsize or turn upside-down: Our sailboat turned turtle during the squall.
  • idiom turn up (one's) nose To regard something with disdain or scorn: turned up her nose at the food.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Of a body, person, etc, to move around an axis through itself.
  • v. To change the direction or orientation of.
  • v. To change one's direction of travel.
  • v. To position (something) by folding it.
  • v. To become (begin to be).
  • v. To fundamentally change; to metamorphose.
  • v. To rebel; to go against something formerly tolerated.
  • v. To shape (something) symmetrically by rotating it against a stationary cutting tool, as on a lathe.
  • v. To sour or spoil; to go bad.
  • v. To change the color of the leaves in the autumn.
  • v. To complete.
  • v. Of a bowler, to make (the ball) move sideways off the pitch when it bounces.
  • v. Of a ball, to move sideways off the pitch when it bounces.
  • v. To change one's course of action; to take a new approach.
  • v. To change personalities, such as from being a face (good guy) to heel (bad guy) or vice versa.
  • v. Of a player, to go past an opposition player with the ball in one's control.
  • n. A change of direction or orientation.
  • n. A movement of an object about its own axis in one direction that continues until the object returns to its initial orientation.
  • n. A single loop of a coil.
  • n. A chance to use (something) shared in sequence with others.
  • n. One's chance to make a move in a game having two or more players.
  • n. A figure in music, often denoted ~, consisting of the note above the one indicated, the note itself, the note below the one indicated, and the note itself again.
  • n. The time required to complete a project.
  • n. A fit or a period of giddiness.
  • n. A change in temperament or circumstance.
  • n. A sideways movement of the ball when it bounces (caused by rotation in flight)
  • n. The fourth communal card in Texas hold 'em.
  • n. The flop (the first three community cards) in Texas hold 'em
  • n. A deed done to another.
  • n. A pass behind or through an object.
  • n. character; personality; nature
  • n. An instances of going past an opposition player with the ball in one's control.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of turning; movement or motion about, or as if about, a center or axis; revolution.
  • n. Change of direction, course, or tendency; different order, position, or aspect of affairs; alteration; vicissitude.

Etymologies

Middle English turnen, from Old English turnian, tyrnan and Old French torner, both from Latin tornāre, to turn in a lathe, from tornus, lathe, from Greek tornos.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English turnen, from Old English turnian, tyrnan ("to turn, rotate, revolve") and Old French torner ("to turn"), both from Latin tornāre ("to round off, turn in a lathe"), from tornus ("lathe"), from Ancient Greek τόρνος (tórnos, "a tool used for making circles"), from Proto-Indo-European *tere-, *ter-, *trē- (“to rub, rub by turning, turn, twist, bore”). Cognate with Old English þrāwan ("to turn, twist, wind"). More at throw. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "46. To hang, as a criminal; hence, with humorous allusion to the “noose,” to put through the marriage ceremony; marry."

    --Century Dictionary

    December 24, 2010

  • In spy lingo, to cause an agent to become a double agent.

    August 26, 2009

  • To spoil, as in meat. "I slaughtered this horse last Tuesday. I'm 'fraid she's startin' to turn."

    July 25, 2007