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See more synonyms for turnpike on Thesaurus.com
  1. a high-speed highway, especially one maintained by tolls.
  2. (formerly) a barrier set across such a highway to stop passage until a toll has been paid; tollgate.
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Origin of turnpike

1375–1425; late Middle English turnepike road barrier (in def. 1, short for turnpike road). See turn, pike2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


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

British Dictionary definitions for turnpike


  1. (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
  2. an obsolete word for turnstile (def. 1)
  3. US a motorway for use of which a toll is charged
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Word Origin

C15: from turn + pike ²
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 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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper