Nearby words

  1. turlough,
  2. turmaline,
  3. turmeric,
  4. turmeric paper,
  5. turmoil,
  6. turn a blind eye to,
  7. turn a deaf ear,
  8. turn a hair, not,
  9. turn a trick,
  10. turn against


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

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.

Related formsturn·a·ble, adjectivehalf-turned, adjectiveun·turn·a·ble, adjectiveun·turned, adjective

Can be confusedintern inturn in turntern turn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in turn



to move or cause to move around an axisa wheel turning; to turn a knob
(sometimes foll by round) to change or cause to change positions by moving through an arc of a circlehe turned the chair to face the light
to change or cause to change in course, direction, etche 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 formthe road turns here
to reverse or cause to reverse position
(tr) to pass round (an enemy or enemy position) so as to attack it from the flank or rearthe Germans turned the Maginot line
(tr) to perform or do by a rotating movementto turn a somersault
(tr) 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 convertedthe alchemists tried to turn base metals into gold
(foll by into) to change or cause to change in nature, character, etcthe frog turned into a prince
(copula) to change so as to becomehe turned nasty when he heard the price
to cause (foliage, etc) to change colour or (of foliage, etc) to change colourfrost 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, etcthe conversation turned to fishing
to direct or apply or be directed or appliedhe turned his attention to the problem
(intr usually foll by to) to appeal or apply (to) for help, advice, etcshe was very frightened and didn't know where to turn
to reach, pass, or progress beyond in age, time, etcshe has just turned twenty
(tr) to cause or allow to goto turn an animal loose
to affect or be affected with nauseathe sight of the dead body turned his stomach
to affect or be affected with giddinessmy head is turning
(tr) to affect the mental or emotional stability of (esp in the phrase turn (someone's) head)
(tr) to release from a containershe turned the fruit into a basin
(tr) 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)
(tr) to cause (an enemy agent) to become a double agent working for one's own sidethe bureau turned some of the spies it had caught
(tr) to bring (soil) from lower layers to the surface
to blunt (an edge) or (of an edge) to become blunted
(tr) to give a graceful form toto turn a compliment
(tr) to reverse (a cuff, collar, etc) in order to hide the outer worn side
(intr) US to be merchandised as specifiedshirts 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 (def. 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 turneda turn of a rope around a bollard
a movement of complete or partial rotation
a change or reversal of direction or position
direction or drifthis 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 (def. 1)
the right or opportunity to do something in an agreed order or successionwe'll take turns to play; now it's George's turn; you must not play out of turn
a change in nature, condition, etchis illness took a turn for the worse
a period of action, work, etc
a short walk, ride, or excursionto take a turn in the park
natural inclinationhe is of a speculative turn of mind; she has a turn for needlework
distinctive form or stylea neat turn of phrase
requirement, need, or advantageto serve someone's turn
a deed performed that helps or hinders someoneto 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 British a short theatrical act, esp in music hall, cabaret, etc
stock exchange
  1. Britishthe 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
Australian slang a party
informal a shock or surprisethe bad news gave her quite a turn
at every turn on all sides or occasions
by turns one after another; alternately
on the turn informal
  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
the turn poker slang 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; perfectlycooked to a turn

Derived Formsturnable, adjective

Word Origin for turn

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

Word Origin and History for in turn
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with in turn

in turn

Also, in turns. In the proper order or in sequence; also, one at a time. For example, Each generation in turn must deal with the same budget problems, or Someone must be awake at all times, so let's sleep in turns. [Late 1500s] Also see out of turn; take turns.


In addition to the idioms beginning with turn

  • turn a blind eye to
  • turn a deaf ear
  • turn against
  • turn a hair, not
  • turn around
  • turn around one's finger
  • turn a trick
  • turn away
  • turn back
  • turn down
  • turn for the better
  • turn in
  • turn in one's grave
  • turn off
  • turn of phrase
  • turn of the century
  • turn of the tide
  • turn on
  • turn one's back on
  • turn one's hand to
  • turn one's head
  • turn one's stomach
  • turn on one's heel
  • turn on the waterworks
  • turn out
  • turn out all right
  • turn over
  • turn over a new leaf
  • turn over in one's grave
  • turn tail
  • turn the clock back
  • turn the corner
  • turn the other cheek
  • turn the scale
  • turn the tables
  • turn the tide
  • turn the trick
  • turn thumbs down
  • turn to
  • turn to good account
  • turn turtle
  • turn up
  • turn up like a bad penny
  • turn up one's nose
  • turn up one's toes
  • turn upside down
  • turn up the heat on
  • turn up trumps

also see:

  • at every turn
  • by turns
  • every time one turns around
  • good turn
  • in turn
  • not know where to turn
  • one good turn deserves another
  • out of turn
  • take a turn for the better
  • take turns
  • to a T (turn)
  • twist (turn) around one's finger
  • when someone's back is turned

Also see underunturned.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.