Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A turn in the other direction; one of the turns of a zigzag.
  • n. The critical moment in a drama, when, contrary to expectation, the action is embroiled in new difficulties.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The critical moment in a play, when, contrary to expectation, the action is embroiled in new difficulties.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The culmination of the plot of a play. See the extract.

Etymologies

counter- +‎ turn (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It was as if the two men were fighting a duel, waging a battle of turn and counterturn, all without speaking or even moving.

    Dance Of Death

  • For, if the action be but one, and that plain, without any counterturn of design or episode, i.e. underplot, how can it be so pleasing as the English, which have both underplot and a turned design, which keeps the audience in expectation of the catastrophe? whereas in the Greek poets we see through the whole design at first.

    Lives of the Poets, Volume 1

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