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[turn] /tɜrn/
verb (used with object)
to cause to move around on an axis or about a center; rotate:
to turn a wheel.
to cause to move around or partly around, as for the purpose of opening, closing, or tightening:
to turn a key; to turn the cap of a jar.
to reverse the position or placement of:
to turn a page; to turn an egg; to turn a person around.
to bring the lower layers of (sod, soil, etc.) to the surface, as in plowing.
to change the position of, by or as if by rotating; move into a different position:
to turn the handle one notch.
to change or alter the course of; divert; deflect:
He turned the blow with his arm.
to change the focus or tendency of:
She skillfully turned the conversation away from so unpleasant a subject.
to reverse the progress of; cause to retreat:
The police turned the advancing rioters by firing over their heads.
to change or alter the nature, character, or appearance of:
Worry turned his hair gray.
to change or convert (usually followed by into or to):
to turn water into ice; to turn tears into laughter.
to render or make by some change:
Fear turned him cowardly and craven.
to change the color of (leaves).
to cause to become sour, to ferment, or the like:
Warm weather turns milk.
to cause (the stomach) to reject food, liquid, etc.; affect with nausea.
to change from one language or form of expression to another; translate.
to put or apply to some use or purpose:
He turned his mind to practical matters.
to go or pass around or to the other side of:
to turn a street corner.
to get beyond or pass (a certain age, time, amount, etc.):
His son just turned four.
to direct, aim, or set toward, away from, or in a specified direction:
to turn the car toward the center of town; to turn one's back to the audience.
to direct (the eyes, face, etc.) another way; avert.
to shape (a piece of metal, wood, etc.) into rounded form with a cutting tool while rotating the piece on a lathe.
to bring into a rounded or curved form in any way.
to shape artistically or gracefully, especially in rounded form.
to form or express gracefully:
to turn a phrase well.
to direct (thought, attention, desire, etc.) toward or away from something.
to cause to go; send; drive:
to turn a person from one's door.
to revolve in the mind; ponder (often followed by over):
He turned the idea over a couple of times before acting on it.
to persuade (a person) to change or reorder the course of his or her life.
to cause to be prejudiced against:
to turn a son against his father.
to maintain a steady flow or circulation of (money or articles of commerce).
to earn or gain:
He turned a huge profit on the sale.
to reverse or remake (a garment, shirt collar, etc.) so that the inner side becomes the outer.
to pour from one container into another by inverting.
to curve, bend, or twist.
to twist out of position or sprain; wrench:
He turned his ankle.
to bend back or blunt (the edge of a blade).
to perform (a gymnastic feat) by rotating or revolving:
to turn a somersault.
to disturb the mental balance of; distract; derange.
to disorder or upset the placement or condition of:
He turned the room upside down.
  1. to convert.
  2. to pervert.
verb (used without object)
to move around on an axis or about a center; rotate.
to move partly around through the arc of a circle, as a door on a hinge.
to hinge or depend (usually followed by on or upon):
The question turns on this point.
to direct or set one's course toward, away from, or in a particular direction.
to direct the face or gaze toward or away from someone or something.
to direct one's thought, attention, desire, etc., toward or away from someone or something.
to give or apply one's interest, attention, effort, etc., to something; pursue:
He turned to the study and practice of medicine.
to change or reverse a course so as to go in a different or the opposite direction:
to turn to the right.
to change position so as to face in a different or the opposite direction.
to change or reverse position or posture as by a rotary motion.
to shift the body about as if on an axis:
to turn on one's side while sleeping.
to assume a curved form; bend.
to become blunted or dulled by bending, as the cutting edge of a knife or saw.
to be affected with nausea, as the stomach.
to be affected with giddiness or dizziness; have a sensation of whirling or reeling.
to adopt religion, a manner of life, etc., especially as differing from a previous position or attitude:
He turned to Christianity in his old age.
to change or transfer one's loyalties; defect:
He turned from the Democrats and joined the Republicans.
to change an attitude or policy:
to turn in favor of someone; to turn against a person.
to change or alter, as in nature, character, or appearance.
to become sour, rancid, fermented, or the like, as milk or butter.
to change color:
The leaves began to turn in October.
to change so as to be; become:
a lawyer turned poet; to turn pale.
to become mentally unbalanced or distracted.
to put about or tack, as a ship.
Journalism. (of copy) to run either from the bottom of the last column on one page to the top of the first column on the following page or from one column on a page to the expected place in the next column on the page (opposed to jump).
a movement of partial or total rotation:
a slight turn of the handle.
an act of changing or reversing position or posture, as by a rotary movement:
a turn of the head.
a time or opportunity for action which comes in due rotation or order to each of a number of persons, animals, etc.:
It's my turn to pay the bill.
an act of changing or reversing the course or direction:
to make a turn to the right.
a place or point at which such a change occurs.
a place where a road, river, or the like turns; bend:
About a mile ahead, you'll come to a turn in the road.
a single revolution, as of a wheel.
an act of turning so as to face or go in a different direction.
direction, drift, or trend:
The conversation took an interesting turn.
any change, as in nature, character, condition, affairs, circumstances, etc.; alteration; modification:
a turn for the better.
the point or time of change.
the time during which a worker or a set of workers is at work in alternation with others.
that which is done by each of a number of persons acting in rotation or succession.
rounded or curved form.
the shape or mold in which something is formed or cast.
a passing or twisting of one thing around another, as of a rope around a mast.
the state of or a manner of being twisted.
a single circular or convoluted shape, as of a coiled or wound rope.
a small latch operated by a turning knob or lever.
style, as of expression or language.
a distinctive form or style imparted:
a happy turn of expression.
a short walk, ride, or the like out and back, especially by different routes:
Let's go for a turn in the park.
a natural inclination, bent, tendency, or aptitude:
one's turn of mind.
a spell or period of work; shift.
a spell or bout of action or activity, especially in wrestling.
an attack of illness or the like.
an act of service or disservice:
He once did her a good turn. She repaid it with a bad turn.
requirement, exigency, or need:
This will serve your turn.
treatment or rendering, especially with reference to the form or content of a work of literature, art, etc.; twist:
He gave the story a new turn.
Informal. a nervous shock, as from fright or astonishment:
It certainly gave me quite a turn to see him.
Stock Exchange. a complete securities transaction that includes both a purchase and sale.
Music. a melodic embellishment or grace, commonly consisting of a principal tone with two auxiliary tones, one above and the other below it.
Chiefly British. an individual stage performance, especially in a vaudeville theater or music hall.
Military. a drill movement by which a formation changes fronts.
a contest or round; a bout, as in wrestling.
Verb phrases
turn back,
  1. to retrace one's footsteps; turn around to return.
  2. to cause to go no further or to return, as by not welcoming; send away.
  3. to fold (a blanket, sheet of paper, etc.) on itself:
    Turn back the page to keep the place.
turn down,
  1. to turn over; fold down.
  2. to lower in intensity; lessen.
  3. to refuse or reject (a person, request, etc.):
    The Marine Corps turned him down.
turn in,
  1. to hand in; submit:
    to turn in a resignation.
  2. to inform on or deliver up:
    She promptly turned him in to the police.
  3. to turn from one path or course into another; veer.
  4. Informal. to go to bed; retire:
    I never turn in before eleven o'clock.
turn into,
  1. to drive a vehicle or to walk into (a street, store, etc.):
    We turned into the dead-end street. He turned into the saloon at the corner.
  2. to be changed, transformed, or converted into:
    He has turned into a very pleasant fellow. The caterpillar turned into a butterfly.
turn off,
  1. to stop the flow of (water, gas, etc.), as by closing a faucet or valve.
  2. to extinguish (a light).
  3. to divert; deflect.
  4. to diverge or branch off, as a side road from a main road.
  5. to drive a vehicle or walk onto (a side road) from a main road:
    You turn off at 96th Street. Turn off the highway on the dirt road.
  6. Slang. to stop listening:
    You could see him turn off as the speaker droned on.
  7. Slang. to disaffect, alienate, or disgust.
  8. Chiefly British. to discharge an employee.
turn on,
  1. to cause (water, gas, etc.) to flow, as by opening a valve.
  2. to switch on (a light).
  3. to put into operation; activate.
  4. to start suddenly to affect or show:
    She turned on the charm and won him over.
  5. Slang. to induce (a person) to start taking a narcotic drug.
  6. Slang. to take a narcotic drug.
  7. Slang. to arouse or excite the interest of; engage:
    the first lecture that really turned me on.
  8. Slang. to arouse sexually.
  9. Also, turn upon. to become suddenly hostile to:
    The dog turned on its owner.
turn out,
  1. to extinguish (a light).
  2. to produce as the result of labor:
    She turned out four tapestries a year.
  3. to drive out; dismiss; discharge:
    a premier turned out of office.
  4. to fit out; dress; equip.
  5. to result; issue.
  6. to come to be; become ultimately.
  7. to be found or known; prove.
  8. to be present at; appear.
  9. Informal. to get out of bed.
  10. Nautical. to order (a seaman or seamen) from quarters for duty.
  11. to cause to turn outward, as the toes.
turn over,
  1. to move or be moved from one side to another.
  2. to put in reverse position; invert.
  3. to consider; meditate; ponder.
  4. to transfer; give.
  5. to start (an engine):
    He turned over the car motor.
  6. (of an engine) to start:
    The motor turned over without any trouble.
  7. Commerce. to purchase and then sell (goods or commodities).
  8. Commerce. to do business or sell goods to the amount of (a specified sum).
  9. Commerce. to invest or recover (capital) in some transaction or in the course of business.
turn to,
  1. to apply to for aid; appeal to:
    When he was starting out as an artist he turned to his friends for loans.
  2. to begin to attend to or work at something:
    After the storm we turned to and cleaned up the debris.
  3. to change to:
    The ice turned to water.
turn up,
  1. to fold (material, a hem, cuffs, etc.) up or over in order to alter a garment.
  2. to bring to the surface by digging:
    to turn up a shovelful of earth.
  3. to uncover; find.
  4. to intensify or increase.
  5. to happen; occur:
    Let's wait and see what turns up.
  6. to appear; arrive:
    She turned up at the last moment.
  7. to be recovered:
    I'm sure your watch will turn up eventually.
  8. to come to notice; be seen.
at every turn, in every case or instance; constantly:
We met with kindness at every turn.
by turns, one after another; in rotation or succession; alternately:
They did their shopping and cleaning by turns.
hand's turn, a period or piece of work:
It won't be necessary for you to do a hand's turn yourself, but rather to supervise.
in turn, in due order of succession:
Each generation in turn must grapple with the same basic problems.
on the turn, on the verge or in the process of turning; changing:
She said she hoped to be alive to see the century on the turn.
out of turn,
  1. not in the correct succession; out of proper order.
  2. at an unsuitable time; imprudently; indiscreetly:
    He spoke out of turn and destroyed the cordial atmosphere of the meeting.
take turns, to succeed one another in order; rotate; alternate:
They took turns walking the dog.
to a turn, to just the proper degree; to perfection:
The steak was done to a turn.
turn and turn about, by turns:
They fought the fire, turn and turn about, until daybreak.
turn one's hand to. hand (def 89).
turn the tables. table (def 24).
turn the tide. tide1 (def 16).
Origin of turn
before 1000; (v.) Middle English turnen, partly continuing Old English turnian, tyrnan < Latin tornāre to turn in a lathe, round off (derivative of tornus lathe < Greek tórnos tool for making circles), partly < Old French torner, t(o)urner < Latin, as above; (noun) Middle English, partly derivative of the v., partly < Anglo-French *torn, t(o)urn; Old French tor, t(o)ur < Latin tornus, as above
Related forms
turnable, adjective
half-turned, adjective
unturnable, adjective
unturned, adjective
Can be confused
intern, inturn, in turn.
tern, turn.
9. metamorphose, transmute, transform. 23, 24. fashion, mold. 41. Turn, revolve, rotate, spin indicate moving in a more or less rotary, circular fashion. Turn is the general and popular word for motion on an axis or around a center, but it is used also of motion that is less than a complete circle: A gate turns on its hinges. Revolve refers especially to movement in an orbit around a center, but is sometimes exchangeable with rotate, which refers only to the motion of a body around its own center or axis: The moon revolves about the earth. The earth rotates on its axis. To spin is to rotate very rapidly: A top spins. 66. spin, gyration, revolution. 75. deviation, bend, twist, vicissitude, variation. 88. talent, proclivity. Turn, cast, twist are colloquial in use and imply a bent, inclination, or habit. Turn means a tendency or inclination for something: a turn for art. Cast means an established habit of thought, manner, or style: a melancholy cast. Twist means a bias: a strange twist of thought. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for turn on

turn on

(transitive, adverb) to cause (something) to operate by turning a knob, etc: to turn on the light
(intransitive, preposition) to depend or hinge on: the success of the party turns on you
(preposition) to change or cause to change one's attitude so as to become hostile or to retaliate: the dog turned on the children
(transitive, adverb) (informal) to produce (charm, tears, etc) suddenly or automatically
(informal) (transitive, preposition) foll by to. to interest (someone) in something: how to turn kids on to drama
(transitive, adverb) (slang) to arouse emotionally or sexually
(intransitive, adverb) (slang) to take or become intoxicated by drugs
(transitive, adverb) (slang) to introduce (someone) to drugs
(slang) a person or thing that causes emotional or sexual arousal


to move or cause to move around an axis: a wheel turning, to turn a knob
(sometimes foll by round) to change or cause to change positions by moving through an arc of a circle: he turned the chair to face the light
to change or cause to change in course, direction, etc: he turned left at the main road
(of soldiers, ships, etc) to alter the direction of advance by changing direction simultaneously or (of a commander) to cause the direction of advance to be altered simultaneously
to go or pass to the other side of (a corner, etc)
to assume or cause to assume a rounded, curved, or folded form: the road turns here
to reverse or cause to reverse position
(transitive) to pass round (an enemy or enemy position) so as to attack it from the flank or rear: the Germans turned the Maginot line
(transitive) to perform or do by a rotating movement: to turn a somersault
(transitive) to shape or cut a thread in (a workpiece, esp one of metal, wood, or plastic) by rotating it on a lathe against a fixed cutting tool
when intr, foll by into or to. to change or convert or be changed or converted: the alchemists tried to turn base metals into gold
(foll by into) to change or cause to change in nature, character, etc: the frog turned into a prince
(copula) to change so as to become: he turned nasty when he heard the price
to cause (foliage, etc) to change colour or (of foliage, etc) to change colour: frost turned the trees a vivid orange
to cause (milk, etc) to become rancid or sour or (of milk, etc) to become rancid or sour
to change or cause to change in subject, trend, etc: the conversation turned to fishing
to direct or apply or be directed or applied: he turned his attention to the problem
(intransitive) usually foll by to. to appeal or apply (to) for help, advice, etc: she was very frightened and didn't know where to turn
to reach, pass, or progress beyond in age, time, etc: she has just turned twenty
(transitive) to cause or allow to go: to turn an animal loose
to affect or be affected with nausea: the sight of the dead body turned his stomach
to affect or be affected with giddiness: my head is turning
(transitive) to affect the mental or emotional stability of (esp in the phrase turn (someone's) head)
(transitive) to release from a container: she turned the fruit into a basin
(transitive) to render into another language
usually foll by against or from. to transfer or reverse or cause to transfer or reverse (one's loyalties, affections, etc)
(transitive) to cause (an enemy agent) to become a double agent working for one's own side: the bureau turned some of the spies it had caught
(transitive) to bring (soil) from lower layers to the surface
to blunt (an edge) or (of an edge) to become blunted
(transitive) to give a graceful form to: to turn a compliment
(transitive) to reverse (a cuff, collar, etc) in order to hide the outer worn side
(intransitive) (US) to be merchandised as specified: shirts are turning well this week
(cricket) to spin (the ball) or (of the ball) to spin
turn one's hand to, to undertake (something, esp something practical)
turn tail, to run away; flee
turn the tables on someone, See table (sense 17)
turn the tide, to reverse the general course of events
an act or instance of turning or the state of being turned or the material turned: a turn of a rope around a bollard
a movement of complete or partial rotation
a change or reversal of direction or position
direction or drift: his thoughts took a new turn
a deviation or departure from a course or tendency
the place, point, or time at which a deviation or change occurs
another word for turning (sense 1)
the right or opportunity to do something in an agreed order or succession: we'll take turns to play, now it's George's turn, you must not play out of turn
a change in nature, condition, etc: his illness took a turn for the worse
a period of action, work, etc
a short walk, ride, or excursion: to take a turn in the park
natural inclination: he is of a speculative turn of mind, she has a turn for needlework
distinctive form or style: a neat turn of phrase
requirement, need, or advantage: to serve someone's turn
a deed performed that helps or hinders someone: to do an old lady a good turn
a twist, bend, or distortion in shape
(music) a melodic ornament that makes a turn around a note, beginning with the note above, in a variety of sequences
(theatre, mainly Brit) a short theatrical act, esp in music hall, cabaret, etc
(stock exchange)
  1. (Brit) the difference between a market maker's bid and offer prices, representing the market maker's profit
  2. a transaction including both a purchase and a sale
a military manoeuvre in which men or ships alter their direction of advance together
(Austral, slang) a party
(informal) a shock or surprise: the bad news gave her quite a turn
at every turn, on all sides or occasions
by turns, one after another; alternately
(informal) on the turn
  1. at the point of change
  2. about to go rancid
out of turn
  1. not in the correct or agreed order of succession
  2. improperly, inappropriately, or inopportunely
(poker, slang) the turn, the fourth community card to be dealt face-up in a round of Texas hold ’em
turn and turn about, one after another; alternately
to a turn, to the proper amount; perfectly: cooked to a turn
Derived Forms
turnable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English tyrnian, from Old French torner, from Latin tornāre to turn in a lathe, from tornus lathe, from Greek tornos dividers
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 turn on



late Old English turnian "to rotate, revolve," in part also from Old French torner "to turn," both from Latin tornare "turn on a lathe," from tornus "lathe," from Greek tornos "lathe, tool for drawing circles," from PIE root *tere- "to rub, rub by turning, turn, twist" (see throw (v.)). Expression to turn (something) into (something else) probably retains the classical sense of "to shape on a lathe" (attested in English from c.1300). Related: Turned; turning.

To turn up "arrive" is recorded from 1755. Turn-off "something that dampens one's spirits" recorded by 1971 (said to have been in use since 1968); to turn (someone) on "excite, stimulate, arouse" is recorded from 1903. Someone should revive turn-sick "dizzy," which is attested from mid-15c. To turn (something) loose "set free" is recorded from 1590s. Turn down (v.) "reject" first recorded 1891, American English. Turn in "go to bed" is attested from 1690s, originally nautical. To turn the stomach "nauseate" is recorded from 1620s. To turn up one's nose as an expression of contempt is attested from 1779. Turning point is attested by 1836 in a figurative sense; literal sense from 1856.



mid-13c., "action of rotation," from Anglo-French tourn (Old French tour), from Latin tornus "turning lathe;" also partly a noun of action from turn (v.). Meaning "an act of turning, a single revolution or part of a revolution" is attested from late 15c. Sense of "place of bending" (in a road, river, etc.) is recorded from early 15c. Meaning "beginning of a period of time" is attested from 1853 (e.g. turn-of-the-century, from 1921 as an adjectival phrase).

Sense of "act of good will" is recorded from c.1300. Meaning "spell of work" is from late 14c.; that of "an individual's time for action, when these go around in succession" is recorded from late 14c. Turn about "by turns, alternately" is recorded from 1640s. Phrase done to a turn (1780) suggests meat roasted on a spit. The turn of the screw (1796) is the additional twist to tighten its hold, sometimes with reference to torture by thumbscrews.

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

turn on

verb phrase

  1. To use narcotics, esp to begin to do so: Tune in, turn on, drop out
  2. To take or inject narcotics: Do you turn on with any of the local heads? (1960s+ Counterculture & narcotics)
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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Idioms and Phrases with turn on

turn on

Cause to begin the operation, flow, or activity of, as in Turn on the lights, please, or Don't turn on the sprinkler yet. [ First half of 1800s ]
Begin to display, employ, or exude, as in He turned on the charm. [ Late 1800s ]
Also,get high or on. Take or cause to take a mind-altering drug, as in The boys were excited about turning on, or They tried to get her high, or I told them I wouldn't get on tonight. [ ; mid-1900s ]
Be or cause to become excited or interested, as in His mother was the first to turn him on to classical music. [ c. 1900 ]
Be or become sexually aroused, as in He blushed when she asked him what turned him on. [ Second half of 1900s ]
Also,turn upon. Depend on, relate to, as in The entire plot turns on mistaken identity. This usage, first recorded in 1661, uses turn in the sense of “revolve on an axis or hinge.”
Also, turn upon . Attack, become hostile toward, as in Although normally friendly, the dog suddenly turned on everyone who came to the door . Also see turn against
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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