Date: 1000-1100
Origin: Partly from Latin tornare 'to turn on a lathe', from turnus 'lathe', from Greek tornos; partly from Old French torner, tourner 'to turn', from Latin tornare


1 verb
turn1 S1 W1

your body

[intransitive and transitive] to move your body so that you are looking in a different direction [↪ twist]:
Ricky turned and walked away.
She turned her head in surprise.
turn around/round/away
Dan turned away, hiding the fear in his eyes.
turn (your head/face) to do something
He turned around to look at Kim.
'No,' she said, turning her head to see David's reaction.
Brigitte glared at him, turned on her heel (=turned away suddenly because of anger), and stomped out of the room.


[transitive usually + adverb/preposition] to move something so that it is pointing or aiming in a different direction
turn something around/over/upside down etc
You may turn over your exam papers now.
turn something on something/somebody
The firemen turned their hoses on the blaze.
turn something to face something/somebody
Could you turn your chairs to face this way?
turn a/the page (=move a page in a book over so that you can read the next page)
turn something down/up
He turned down the corner of the sheet to peep at the baby.


a) [intransitive and transitive] to go in a new direction when you are walking, driving etc, or to make the vehicle you are using do this:
I watched until he turned the corner.
turn left/right
Turn left at the church.
turn into/onto/down etc
She cycled up the street and turned into Long Road.
Turning the car around, we headed home.
b) [intransitive] if a road, river etc turns, it curves and starts to go in a new direction:
Further on, the river turns east.
The road turns sharply at the top of the hill.

move around central point

[intransitive and transitive] to move around a central or fixed point, or to make something move in this way:
The wheels turned slowly, then picked up speed.
For some reason, the key wouldn't turn.
turn the handle/knob/key/tap etc
She gently turned the handle of the bedroom door.


[linking verb, transitive] to start to have a different quality, or to make something do this
turn (something) red/blue/white etc
Rose's hair was already turning grey.
In October the leaves turn orange and yellow.
The sun had turned the sky a glowing pink.
the weather turns cold/nasty etc also it turns cold/nasty etc
Then it turned cold and started to rain.
turn nasty/mean/violent etc (=suddenly become angry, violent etc)
The police are worried that the situation could turn violent.
see usage note become


[intransitive and transitive] to start to think about, deal with, look at etc a particular person, thing, or subject, instead of what you were thinking about etc before
turn your attention/thoughts/efforts etc to something/somebody
Many investors have turned their attention to opportunities abroad.
Phil turned his gaze towards the older man.
turn to/towards etc something
As usual, the conversation turned back to her children.
Now is the time of year when thoughts turn in the direction of summer holidays.
Next the Senator turned to education.

turn your back (on somebody/something)

a) to refuse to help, support, or be involved with someone or something:
How can you turn your back on your own mother?
In his twenties he turned his back on his Catholic faith.
b) to turn so that your back is pointing towards someone or something, and you are not looking at them:
Angrily, she turned her back on him.


[transitive] to become a particular age, or to reach a particular time
somebody turns 15/20/40 etc
My son's just turned 18.
it's turned 2 o'clock/5/midday etc
It's just turned three.

turn something inside out

a) to pull a piece of clothing, bag etc so that the inside is facing out:
Turn the sweater inside out before you wash it.
b) also turn something upside down to search everywhere for something, in a way that makes a place very untidy:
Thieves had turned the house upside down.
c) also turn something upside down or turn something on its head to completely change the way that something is done, organized, thought about etc:
New approaches to marketing turn old practices upside down.
Her opinion of him had been turned on its head.

have turned the corner

to start to improve after going through a difficult period or experience:
The manager of the hotel chain claims that they have turned the corner.

make/let go out

[transitive] to make or let someone or something go out from where they are
turn somebody/something out/outside/into etc (something)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.
There are some criminals who cannot be turned loose onto the streets.


[intransitive] if the tide turns, the sea starts to come in or go out again

change development

[intransitive and transitive] if something such as a war, situation, game of sport etc turns, or someone turns it, something happens to change the way it is developing:
Mills turned the game by scoring twice.
The victory turned the tide of the war in North Africa.

turn traitor

to be disloyal to a person, group, or idea that you have strongly supported before

turn your ankle

MI to twist your ankle in a way that injures it [= sprain]:
Wright turned his ankle in the first minutes of the game.

an actor turned politician/a housewife turned author etc

someone who has done one job and then does something completely different

➔ poacher turned gamekeeper

at poacher

turn somebody's head

to be attractive in a romantic or sexual way:
She turned heads whenever she walked into a room.

turn (people's) heads

if something turns people's heads, they are surprised by it:
It did turn some heads when he moved back to the village.

turn a profit

American English to make a profit

turn a phrase

to say something in a particular way:
Cohen knows how to turn a phrase in his lyrics.


[transitive] to break up soil so that it is ready for growing crops:
a distant tractor turning the soil


[transitive] to shape a wooden or metal object using a special tool


[intransitive] British English if milk turns, it becomes sour

➔ turn a blind eye (to something)

at blind1 (3)

; ➔ turn the other cheek

at cheek1 (4)

; ➔ turn full circle

at circle1 (6)

; ➔ somebody would turn in their grave

at grave1 (3)

; ➔ not turn a hair

at hair (11)

; ➔ turn your hand to (doing) something

at hand1 (26)

; ➔ turn over a new leaf

at leaf1 (3)

; ➔ turn your nose up (at something)

at nose1 (5)

; ➔ turn your stomach

at stomach1 (4)

; ➔ turn the tables (on somebody)

at table1 (5)

; ➔ turn tail

at tail1 (9)

turn (somebody) against somebody/something

phrasal verb
to stop liking or supporting someone or something, or to make someone do this:
Many people had turned against the war.
Dave felt she was deliberately turning the kids against him.

turn around

phrasal verb
1 if a business, department etc that is not successful turns around, or if someone turns it around, it starts to be successful:
The company turned around from losses of £1.4 million last year to profits of £26,800.
turn something ↔ around
At Rockwell International he had turned around a badly performing division.
2 if a situation, game etc turns around, or if someone turns it around, it changes and starts to develop in the way you want:
After I met him, my whole life turned around.
turn something ↔ around
Fender's batting could turn matches around in half an hour.

turn around and say/do etc something

spoken to say or do something that is unexpected or that seems unfair or unreasonable:
You can't just turn around and say that it was all my fault.

turn something ↔ around

to consider an idea, question etc in a different way, or change the words of something so that it has a different meaning:
Let's turn the whole idea around and look at it from another angle.

turn something ↔ around

to complete the process of making a product or providing a service:
We can turn around 500 units by next week.

every time somebody turns around

spoken very often or all the time:
Every time I turn around he seems to be checking up on me.

turn away

phrasal verb

turn somebody ↔ away

to refuse to let someone enter a place or join an organization, for example because it is full:
The show was so popular police had to turn people away.
Thousands of applicants are turned away each year.

turn somebody ↔ away

to refuse to give someone sympathy, help, or support:
Anyone who comes to us will not be turned away.
The insurance company has promised not to turn away its existing customers.

turn (somebody) away from somebody/something

to stop supporting someone, or stop using or being interested in something, or to make someone do this:
Consumers are turning away from credit cards.
events that turned Henry away from his family

turn back

phrasal verb
1 to go back in the direction you came from, or to make someone or something do this:
It's getting late - maybe we should turn back.
turn somebody/something ↔ back
The UN convoy was turned back at the border.
2 to return to doing something in the way it was done before
turn back to
The people are turning back to natural resources to survive.
We've promised to help, and there's no turning back (=you cannot change this)!

➔ turn back the clock

at clock1 (3)

turn somebody/something ↔ down

phrasal verb
1 to turn the switch on a machine such as an oven, radio etc so that it produces less heat, sound etc [≠ turn up]:
Can you turn the TV down? I'm trying to work.
2 to refuse an offer, request, or invitation:
They offered her the job but she turned it down.
I'm not going to turn down an invitation to go to New York!
Josie's already turned him down (=refused his offer of marriage).

turn in

phrasal verb

turn something ↔ in

to give something to a person in authority, especially an illegal weapon or something lost or stolen:
The rebels were told to turn in their weapons and ammunition.
turn something ↔ in to
My wallet was turned in to the police two days later.

turn something ↔ in

American English to give back something you have borrowed or rented [= return]:
When do the library books have to be turned in?

turn in something

to produce a particular profit, result etc:
Bimec turned in net profits of £2.4 million.
Last night the team turned in another dazzling performance.

turn somebody ↔ in

SC to tell the police who or where a criminal is:
Margrove's wife finally turned him in.
5 to go to bed:
I think I'll turn in early tonight.

turn something ↔ in

American English to give a piece of work you have done to a teacher, your employer etc [= hand in British English]
Have you all turned in your homework assignments?

turn (somebody/something) into something

phrasal verb
1 to become something different, or to make someone or something do this:
The sofa turns into a bed.
A few weeks later, winter had turned into spring.
Hollywood discovered her and turned her into a star.
2 to change by magic from one thing into another, or to make something do this:
In a flash, the prince turned into a frog.
The witch had turned them all into stone.

days turned into weeks/months turned into years etc

used to say that time passed slowly while you waited for something to happen:
Weeks turned into months, and still there was no letter.

turn off

phrasal verb

turn something ↔ off

to make a machine or piece of electrical equipment such as a television, engine, light etc stop operating by pushing a button, turning a key etc [= switch off; ≠ turn on]:
Don't forget to turn the lights off when you leave.
see usage note close1

turn something ↔ off

to stop the supply of water, gas etc from flowing by turning a handle [≠ turn on]:
They've turned the gas off for a couple of hours.

turn off (something)

to leave the road you are travelling on and start travelling on another road
turn off (something) at/near etc
I think we should have turned off at the last exit.
turn off the road/motorway etc
Mark turned off the highway and into Provincetown.

turn somebody ↔ off

to make someone decide they do not like something:
Any prospective buyer will be turned off by the sight of rotting wood.

turn somebody ↔ off

to make someone feel that they are not attracted to you in a sexual way [≠ turn on]:
Men who stink of beer really turn me off.

turn on

phrasal verb

turn something ↔ on

to make a machine or piece of electrical equipment such as a television, engine, light etc start operating by pushing a button, turning a key etc [= switch on; ≠ turn off]:
Jake turned on his computer and checked his mail.

turn something ↔ on

to make the supply of water, gas etc start flowing from something by turning a handle [≠ turn off]:
He turned on the gas and lit the stove.
'I'm thirsty,' she said, turning on the tap.

turn on somebody


turn upon somebody

to suddenly attack someone, using physical violence or unpleasant words:
Peter turned on Rae and screamed, 'Get out of my sight!'

turn on something


turn upon something

if a situation, event, argument etc turns on a particular thing or idea, it depends on that thing:
As usual, everything turned on how much money was available.

turn somebody on

to make someone feel sexually excited:
The way he looked at her really turned her on.

turn somebody on

to interest someone, or to make someone become interested in something:
Science fiction just doesn't turn me on.
turn somebody on to
It was Walter who turned me on to vegetarian food.

turn on the charm


turn it on

to suddenly start to be very nice, amusing, and interesting, especially in a way that is not sincere:
Simon was good at turning on the charm at parties.

turn out

phrasal verb
1 to happen in a particular way, or to have a particular result, especially one that you did not expect
turn out well/badly/fine etc
It was a difficult time, but eventually things turned out all right.
To my surprise, it turned out that I was wrong.
As it turned out (=used to say what happened in the end), he passed the exam quite easily.
turn out to be something
That guy turned out to be Maria's second cousin.

turn the light out

to stop the flow of electricity to a light by pressing a switch, pulling a string etc:
Don't forget to turn out the lights when you go!
3 if a lot of people turn out for an event, they go to watch it or take part in it
turn out for
About 70% of the population turned out for the election.
turn out to do something
Thousands turned out to watch yesterday's match against Ireland.

turn somebody ↔ out

to force someone to leave a place permanently, especially their home:
If you can't pay the rent, they turn you out.

turn something ↔ out

to produce or make something:
The factory turns out 300 units a day.

well/beautifully/badly etc turned out

dressed in good, beautiful etc clothes:
elegantly turned-out young ladies

turn something ↔ out

a) to empty something completely by taking out the contents:
The policeman made him turn out his pockets.
b) British English to take out everything in a room, drawer etc and clean the room etc thoroughly:
Lea decided to turn out the attic.

turn over

phrasal verb

turn something over to somebody

to give someone the right to own something, or to make someone responsible for dealing with something:
He'll turn the shop over to his son when he retires.

turn something over to something

to use land, a building etc for a different purpose:
There is a new plan to turn the land over to wind farming.

turn somebody over to somebody

SC to take a criminal to the police or another official organization:
Suspected terrorists are immediately turned over to the law.

turn over something

B if a business turns over a particular amount of money, it earns that amount in a particular period of time:
Within ten years the theme park was turning over £20 million.
5 if an engine turns over, or if someone turns it over, it starts to work:
The engine turned over twice and then stopped.
6 British English to turn a page in a book or a sheet of paper to the opposite side:
Turn over and look at the next page.
7 British EnglishTCB to change to another channel on a television:
Can we turn over? There's a film I want to see.

turn something over

British English to search a place thoroughly or steal things from it, making it very untidy:
Burglars had been in and turned the whole house over.

➔ turn over a new leaf

at leaf1 (3)

; ➔ turn something over in your mind

at mind1 (17)

turn round

phrasal verb

turn to somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 to try to get help, advice, or sympathy from someone:
I don't know who to turn to.
The Namibian government turned to South Africa for help.
2 to start to do or use something new, especially as a way of solving a problem:
Many people here are turning to solar power.
turn to drink/crime/drugs etc
addicts who turn to crime to finance their habit

turn (something) to something

to become a different quality, attitude, form of a substance etc, or to make something do this:
Our laughter turned to horror as we realized that Jody was really hurt.
When water turns to steam, it expands.
A sudden storm turned the earth to mud.
4 to look at a particular page in a book:
Turn to page 655 for more information.

turn up

phrasal verb

turn something ↔ up

to turn a switch on a machine such as an oven, radio etc so that it produces more heat, sound etc [≠ turn down]:
Turn the oven up to 220.
Turn up the radio!
2 to be found, especially by chance, after having been lost or searched for:
Eventually my watch turned up in a coat pocket.
3 to arrive at a place, especially in a way that is unexpected:
You can't just turn up and expect a meal.
turn up late/early/on time etc
Steve turned up late, as usual.
4 if an opportunity or situation turns up, it happens, especially when you are not expecting it:
Don't worry, I'm sure a job will turn up soon.

turn something ↔ up

to find something by searching for it thoroughly:
The police investigation hasn't turned up any new evidence.

turn something ↔ up

British EnglishDC to shorten a skirt, trousers etc by folding up the bottom and sewing it

➔ turn up trumps

at trump1 (4)

turn upon somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 to suddenly attack someone, using physical violence or unpleasant words [= turn on]
2 if a situation, event, argument etc turns upon a particular thing or idea, it depends on that thing [= turn on]:
The court case turned upon a technicality of company law.

become, get, go, turn, grow, come
become can be followed by an adjective or noun, not a verb Her husband became jealous. We soon became friends.The following words are used with an adjective instead of become, in certain cases:get is very often used instead of become, and is more usual in spoken English I was getting hungry. Things got worse and worse.go is usedto say that something changes colour The sky went say that someone feels a change in their body My fingers have gone numb. with blind and deaf He went blind. with mad, insane, crazy etc The crowd went wild.turn is used especially to say that something changes colour The liquid turned green. His face turned pale.grow can be used in fairly literary written English to say that something changes gradually It grew dark as we walked.with a to-infinitive, to say that someone gradually starts doing something We grew to love each other.come is usedwith adjectives like apart, undone, and unstuck Your shoelace has come undone. A few pages came loose. with true Her prediction came true. with a to-infinitive to say that someone starts doing something I eventually came to realize (NOT became to realize) I was wrong.See also become

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