[ turf ]
/ tɜrf /
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noun, plural turfs, (especially British) turves [turvz]. /tɜrvz/.
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.
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Origin of turf

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English, cognate with Dutch turf, German Torf (from Low German ), Old Norse torf, akin to Sanskrit darbha “tuft of grass”; see turbary


turfless, adjectiveturflike, adjectivere·turf, verb (used with object)un·turfed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does turf mean?

Turf is the top layer of a grassy area consisting of a kind of mat of grass and its roots. It’s the layer you could cut out and pull up in one piece.

Such pieces are in fact pulled up and used to form lawns. This is also called turf. A close synonym is sod. Artificial turf is a surface that’s supposed to resemble a grassy surface, such as is sometimes used on sports fields. A name for one kind of this is Astroturf.

Turf is also a term for the area that a gang claims as its exclusive territory. This sense of turf can also be used more casually to refer to a physical or figurative area that one claims as one’s own, such as an area of expertise, as in Advertising is my turf, so please stick to accounting. This use of the word turf is used in the phrases turf war and home turf.

Example: My cat claimed my dog’s bed as her turf, and the dog’s not happy about it.

Where does turf come from?

The first records of the word turf come from before the 900s. It’s related to the Old Norse torfa, the Old High German zurba, and the Sanskrit darbha, meaning “tuft of grass.”

Turf isn’t just grass, but grass is part of it. Together with dirt, the roots of all the grass growing in a field or pasture form a kind of thickly matted layer over the rest of the soil. This top layer is called turf. Sometimes, turf is grown like a crop, to be cut, rolled up, and planted in lawns or other places. This is also called sod.

The phrase the turf is sometimes used to refer to a horse racing track, or horse racing in general.

The first records of turf to refer to gang territory come from the 1900s, but similar senses were used earlier. This meaning has become extended to more casual use: saying something is your turf is the same as saying it’s your territory, meaning you have authority or expertise in it or some other claim to it. The phrase home turf refers to one’s usual surroundings, such as one’s neighborhood or hometown. It’s commonly used in sports to refer to a team’s “home” stadium, court, field, or other playing area—whether it’s covered in turf or not.

In British slang, turf and turf out mean “to kick out or expel,” as in They’re expected to turf him from the board.

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What are some other forms related to turf?

  • turfs (plural)
  • turves (alternate plural sometimes used in British English)
  • turfless (adjective)
  • turflike (adjective)
  • returf (verb)
  • unturfed (verb)

What are some synonyms for turf?

What are some words that share a root or word element with turf


What are some words that often get used in discussing turf?

How is turf used in real life?

When it refers to gang territory or it’s used in a similar way, turf is a slang term that’s typically used informally.



Try using turf!

True or False? 

When it’s used to refer to exclusive territory, tu,irf is always used in the context of gangs.

How to use turf in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for turf

/ (tɜːf) /

noun plural turfs or turves (tɜːvz)
(tr) to cover with pieces of turf

Word Origin for turf

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