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

  • adj. Shapely: a well-turned ankle.
  • adj. Concisely or aptly expressed: a well-turned phrase.
  • adj. Expertly rounded or turned: a well-turned bedpost.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having a pleasing shape
  • adj. Pleasingly expressed
  • adj. Expertly turned on a lathe

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Accurately turned or rounded: as, a well-turned column.
  • Dexterously turned or fashioned; well-rounded; aptly constructed: as, a well-turned sentence or compliment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of a pleasing shape
  • adj. (of language) aptly and pleasingly expressed


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Now Mr. Dubus chronicles the desperation of his own hardscrabble upbringing in the post-industrial mill towns of Massachusetts, where he brawled away his youth before he realized that a well-turned sentence offered more satisfaction than a cleanly landed right cross.

    Bareknuckle Beginnings

  • He had total recall for dialogue, and launched into long, louche stories about his social experiences, spinning off in colourful tangents "There's a subtext here you may not know about", always coming back, as in a well-turned essay, to his narrative – very funny, wildly indiscreet but never, ever malicious.

    My hero: Victoria Glendinning on John Gross

  • Beyoncé would come out and lead all who performed — spoken and sung — in a well-turned “America, The Beautiful”, with Stevie chiming in on harmonica and everyone else assembled, including many on the Mall proper filling in “We Are The World” style in unison.

    Archive 2009-01-01

  • Reading other writers has had the most impact on me: I still thrill at a well-turned sentence.

    “I don’t understand the vogue for stripped-down sentences.” « PubliCola

  • Since Dante is a compendium of the middle ages, bringing together its theology and philosophy as well as its poetry, liturgy and music, this was more that a well-turned phrase.


  • Mainstream comedy was more reliant on the well-turned gag, but – in the words of old-school doyen Frank Carson – "it's the way I tell 'em" that made the comedy funny.

    Standup has grown up – but that doesn't mean it is great literature

  • As I took my position outside the Susan B. Anthony Middle School and peeled back the plastic lid on my cup of coffee I spotted her; a brunette, well-turned ankles, in a stylish trench coat.

    OWS Boston: Members Only

  • Feeling well-turned out, surrounded by my friends and their love.

    Hollye Harrington Jacobs: A Fashionable and Informative Trip to Chemotherapy

  • The music that Mr. Tchicai's sextet actually played had nothing to do with either Coltrane or "Ascension," but was a very well-turned sequence of tightly arranged chamber works for two saxes, violin, guitar, bass and drums in which the inner content was free jazz.

    A Last Weekend of Virtuosos and Visionaries

  • Your fashion role models here are Italian men, who seem to have an innate flair for looking well-turned out in the fall or early spring, when it is nippy outside and there is no need to be bogged down in heavy outerwear.

    Dressing in Layers, But Staying Stylish


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.