- any reptile of the order Testudines, comprising aquatic and terrestrial species having the trunk enclosed in a shell consisting of a dorsal carapace and a ventral plastron.
- (not used technically) an aquatic turtle as distinguished from a terrestrial one.Compare tortoise(def 1).
- to catch turtles, especially as a business.
- turn turtle,
- Nautical.to capsize or turn over completely in foundering.
- to overturn; upset: Several of the cars turned turtle in the course of the race.
Origin of turtle1
- any of various aquatic chelonian reptiles, esp those of the marine family Chelonidae, having a flattened shell enclosing the body and flipper-like limbs adapted for swimmingRelated adjectives: chelonian, testudinal
- US and Canadian any of the chelonian reptiles, including the tortoises and terrapins
- nautical a zip bag made as part of a spinnaker for holding the sail so that it can be set rapidly
- turn turtle to capsize
- (intr) to catch or hunt turtles
- an archaic name for turtledove
Word Origin and History for turn turtle
reptile, c.1600, "marine tortoise," from French tortue "turtle, tortoise," of unknown origin. The English word is perhaps a sailors' mauling of the French one, influenced by the similar sounding turtle (n.2). Later extended to land tortoises; sea-turtle is attested from 1610s. Turtleneck "close-fitting collar" is recorded from 1895.
"turtledove," Old English turtle, dissimilation of Latin turtur "turtledove," a reduplicated form imitative of the bird's call. Graceful, harmonious and affectionate to its mate, hence a term of endearment in Middle English. Turtledove is attested from c.1300.
Idioms and Phrases with turn turtle
Capsize, turn upside down, as in When they collided, the car turned turtle. This expression alludes to the helplessness of a turtle turned on its back, where its shell can no longer protect it. [First half of 1800s]
see turn turtle.