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[turn-pahyk] /ˈtɜrnˌpaɪk/
a high-speed highway, especially one maintained by tolls.
(formerly) a barrier set across such a highway to stop passage until a toll has been paid; tollgate.
Origin of turnpike
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English turnepike road barrier (in def. 1, short for turnpike road). See turn, pike2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for turnpike
Historical Examples
  • The first American turnpike was built in Pennsylvania in 1790.

    The Railroad Question William Larrabee
  • The character he most loved to play was Crack, in the "turnpike Gate."

  • And I turned El Mahdi into the wooded road on the left of the turnpike.

    Dwellers in the Hills Melville Davisson Post
  • Presently Jud came down into the turnpike and shouted to me.

    Dwellers in the Hills Melville Davisson Post
  • No support, and no orders, and on the turnpike a bank of blue massing to rush my guns!

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • There were, however, two fair roads—the old turnpike and the Plank Road.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • He crossed the turnpike, he came down on the Dunkard church.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • On one turnpike there were sixty-five taverns in sixty miles.

    Home Life in Colonial Days Alice Morse Earle
  • Turning my horse's head, I rejoined my companion, and we rode on to the turnpike.

    Frank Fairlegh Frank E. Smedley
  • He was found, as I have said, the next morning frozen to death on the turnpike road.

    A Night in the Snow Rev. E. Donald Carr
British Dictionary definitions for turnpike


(between the mid-16th and late 19th centuries)
  1. gates or some other barrier set across a road to prevent passage until a toll had been paid
  2. a road on which a turnpike was operated
an obsolete word for turnstile (sense 1)
(US) a motorway for use of which a toll is charged
Word Origin
C15: from turn + pike²
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 turnpike

early 15c., "spiked road barrier used for defense," from turn + pike (n.2) "shaft." Sense transferred to "horizontal cross of timber, turning on a vertical pin" (1540s), which were used to bar horses from foot roads. This led to the sense of "barrier to stop passage until a toll is paid" (1670s). Meaning "road with a toll gate" is from 1748, shortening of turnpike road (1745).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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