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[turf] /tɜrf/
noun, plural turfs (especially British) turves.
a layer of matted earth formed by grass and plant roots.
peat, especially as material for fuel.
a block or piece of peat dug for fuel.
  1. the neighborhood over which a street gang asserts its authority.
  2. a familiar area, as of residence or expertise:
    Denver is her turf. When you talk literature you're getting into my turf.
Chiefly British. a piece cut or torn from the surface of grassland; sod.
the turf.
  1. the track over which horse races are run.
  2. the practice or sport of racing horses.
verb (used with object)
to cover with turf or sod.
British Slang. to remove from a desirable office or position; expel; kick out:
He was turfed from leadership of the group.
Origin of turf
before 900; 1930-35 for def 5; Middle English, Old English, cognate with Dutch turf, German Torf (< LG), Old Norse torf, akin to Sanskrit darbha tuft of grass. See turbary
Related forms
turfless, adjective
turflike, adjective
returf, verb (used with object)
unturfed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for turf


noun (pl) turfs, turves (tɜːvz)
the surface layer of fields and pastures, consisting of earth containing a dense growth of grasses with their roots; sod
a piece cut from this layer, used to form lawns, verges, etc
the turf
  1. a track, usually of grass or dirt, where horse races are run
  2. horse racing as a sport or industry
(US, slang) the territory or area of activity over which a person or group claims exclusive rights
an area of knowledge or influence: he's on home turf when it comes to music
another term for peat1
(informal) go with the turf, to be an unavoidable part of a particular situation or process
(transitive) to cover with pieces of turf
Word Origin
Old English; related to Old Norse torfa, Old High German zurba, Sanskrit darbha tuft of grass
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for turf

Old English turf, tyrf "slab of soil and grass," also "surface of grassland," from Proto-Germanic *turb- (cf. Old Norse torf, Danish tørv, Old Frisian turf, Old High German zurba, German Torf), from PIE root *drbh- (cf. Sanskrit darbhah "tuft of grass").

French tourbe "turf" is a Germanic loan-word. The Old English plural was identical with the singluar, but in Middle English turves sometimes was used. Slang meaning "territory claimed by a gang" is attested from 1953 in Brooklyn, N.Y.; earlier it had a jive talk sense of "the street, the sidewalk" (1930s), which is attested in hobo use from 1899, and before that "the work and venue of a prostitute" (1860). Turf war is recorded from 1962.


early 15c., "to cover (ground) with turf," from turf (n.). Related: Turfed; turfing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for turf



  1. The sidewalk; the street (1930s+ Jive talk)
  2. The territory claimed or controlled by a street gang: I tried to imagine my Deacons pacing the turf or talking about me (1953+ Street gang)
  3. A particular specialized concern; thing: Counterterrorism is not their exclusive turf/ I never thought of myself as pretty, that was my sister's turf (1970+)


To transfer a patient to another ward or service in order to evade responsibility, decisions, irritations, etc (1970s+ Medical)

[turf, ''the road,'' in the first sense is found in hobo use by 1899]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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