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turf

[turf]
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noun, plural turfs, (especially British) turves.
  1. a layer of matted earth formed by grass and plant roots.
  2. peat, especially as material for fuel.
  3. a block or piece of peat dug for fuel.
  4. Slang.
    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.
  5. Chiefly British. a piece cut or torn from the surface of grassland; sod.
  6. the turf,
    1. the track over which horse races are run.
    2. the practice or sport of racing horses.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cover with turf or sod.
  2. 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 formsturf·less, adjectiveturf·like, adjectivere·turf, verb (used with object)un·turfed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for turf

turf

noun plural turfs or turves (tɜːvz)
  1. the surface layer of fields and pastures, consisting of earth containing a dense growth of grasses with their roots; sod
  2. a piece cut from this layer, used to form lawns, verges, etc
  3. the turf
    1. a track, usually of grass or dirt, where horse races are run
    2. horse racing as a sport or industry
  4. US slang the territory or area of activity over which a person or group claims exclusive rights
  5. an area of knowledge or influencehe's on home turf when it comes to music
  6. another term for peat 1
  7. go with the turf informal to be an unavoidable part of a particular situation or process
verb
  1. (tr) 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

Word Origin and History for turf

n.

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.

v.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper