a person who changes to the opposite party or faction, reverses principles, etc.; renegade.

Origin of turncoat

First recorded in 1550–60; turn + coat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for turncoat

Contemporary Examples of turncoat

Historical Examples of turncoat

  • Which is another reason for general GS enmity: the turncoat syndrome.


    Jim Wannamaker

  • If he has once been a turncoat, he will be a turncoat again.

    Temporal Power

    Marie Corelli

  • It needs more than the zeal of a turncoat to drive Apollo out of Parnassus.

  • He who passes over from one party to another is at once abused as a "turncoat."

  • I have no use for Jews, especially for a turncoat, and I will see that you get the limit of the court.

    Riches of Grace

    E. E. Byrum

British Dictionary definitions for turncoat



a person who deserts one cause or party for the opposite faction; renegade
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 turncoat

1550s, from turn (v.) + coat (n.). Originally one who tried to hide the badge of his party or leader. The expression to turn one's coat "change principles or party" is recorded from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper