turn / tərn/ • v. 1. move or cause to move in a circular direction wholly or partly around an axis or point: [intr.] the big wheel was turning | [tr.] I turned the key in the door and crept in. ∎ [tr.] move (something) so that it is in a different position in relation to its surroundings or its previous position: we waited in suspense for him to turn the cards over. ∎ [tr.] move (a page) over so that it is flat against the previous or next page: she turned a page noisily | [intr.] turn to page five for the answer. ∎ change or cause to change direction: [intr.] we turned around and headed back to the house. ∎ [tr.] aim, point, or direct (something): she turned her head toward me the government has now turned its attention to primary schools. ∎ [intr.] change the position of one's body so that one is facing in a different direction: Charlie turned and looked at his friend. ∎ [intr.] (of the tide) change from flood to ebb or vice versa. ∎ [tr.] pass around (the flank or defensive lines of an army) so as to attack it from the side or rear. ∎ [tr.] perform (a somersault or cartwheel). ∎ [tr.] twist or sprain (an ankle). ∎ [tr.] fold or unfold (fabric or a piece of a garment) in the specified way: he turned up the collar of his coat. ∎ [tr.] remake (a garment or a sheet), putting the worn outer side on the inside. ∎ [tr.] [usu. as adj.] (turned) Printing set or print (a type or letter) upside down. ∎ [tr.] archaic bend back (the edge of a blade) so as to make it blunt.2. [intr.] change in nature, state, form, or color; become: Emmeline turned pale the slight drizzle turned into a downpour. ∎ cause to change in such a way; cause to become: potatoes are covered with sacking to keep the light from turning them green. ∎ [intr.] (of leaves) change color in the autumn. ∎ [tr.] pass the age or time of: I've just turned forty. ∎ (with reference to milk) make or become sour: [tr.] the thunder had turned the milk. ∎ (with reference to the stomach) make or become nauseated: [tr.] the smell was bad enough to turn the strongest stomach. ∎ send or put into a specified place or condition: the dogs were turned loose on the crowd.3. [intr.] (turn to) start doing or becoming involved with: in 1939 he turned to films in earnest. ∎ go on to consider next: we can now turn to another aspect of the problem. ∎ go to for help, advice, or information: who can she turn to? ∎ have recourse to (something, esp. something dangerous or unhealthy): he turned to drink and drugs for solace.4. [tr.] shape (something) on a lathe: the faceplate is turned rather than cast. ∎ give a graceful or elegant form to: [as adj.] (turned) a production full of so many finely turned words. ∎ make (a profit).• n. 1. an act of moving something in a circular direction around an axis or point: a safety lock requiring four turns of the key. ∎ a change of direction when moving: they made a left turn and picked up speed. ∎ a development or change in circumstances or a course of events: life has taken a turn for the better. ∎ a time when one specified period of time ends and another begins: the turn of the century. ∎ a bend or curve in a road, path, river, etc.: the twists and turns in the passageways. ∎ a place where a road meets or branches off another. ∎ (the turn) the beginning of the second nine holes of a round of golf: he made the turn in one under par. ∎ a change of the tide from ebb to flow or vice versa. ∎ one round in a coil of rope or other material.2. an opportunity or obligation to do something that comes successively to each of a number of people: it was his turn to speak. ∎ a short performance, esp. one of a number given by different performers in succession: a comic turn. ∎ a performer giving such a performance.3. a short walk or ride: why don't you take a turn around the garden?4. inf. a shock: you gave us quite a turn! ∎ a brief feeling or experience of illness: tell me how you feel when you have these funny turns.5. the difference between the buying and selling price of stocks or other financial products. ∎ a profit made from such a difference.6. Mus. a melodic ornament consisting of the principal note with those above and below it.PHRASES: at every turn on every occasion; continually: her name seemed to come up at every turn.by turns one after the other; alternately: he was by turns amused and mildly annoyed by her.do someone a good (or bad) turn do something that is helpful (or unhelpful) for someone.in turn in succession; one after the other: four men prayed in turn. ∎ (also in one's/its turn) used to convey that an action, process, or situation is the result or product of a previous one: he would shout until she, in her turn, lost her temper.not know which way (or where) to turn not know what to do; be completely at a loss.not turn a hairsee hair.on the turn at a turning point; in a state of change: my luck is on the turn. out of turn at a time when it is not one's turn.speak (or talk) out of turn speak in a tactless or foolish way.take turns (of two or more people) do something alternately or in succession.to a turn to exactly the right degree (used esp. in relation to cooking): hamburgers done to a turn.turn one's back onsee back.turn the corner pass the critical point and start to improve.turn a deaf earsee deaf.turn one's hand to somethingsee hand.turn one's headsee head.turn headssee head.turn an honest pennysee honest.turn in one's gravesee grave1 .turn of mind a particular way of thinking: people with a practical turn of mind.turn of speed the ability to go fast when necessary.turn on one's heelsee heel1 .turn the other cheeksee cheek.turn over a new leaf start to act or behave in a better or more responsible way.turn something over in one's mind think about or consider something thoroughly.turn around and do (or say) something inf. used to convey that someone's actions or words are perceived as unexpected, unwelcome, or confrontational: then she just turned around and said she wasn't coming after all.turn the tablessee table.turn tail inf. turn around and run away.turn the tidesee tide.turn something to (good) accountsee account.turn a tricksee trick.turn turtlesee turtle.turn up one's nose atsee nose.PHRASAL VERBS: turn against (or turn someone against) become (or cause someone to become) hostile toward: public opinion turned against him.turn around move so as to face in the opposite direction: Alice turned around and walked down the corridor.turn something around1. prepare a ship or aircraft for its return journey.2. reverse the previously poor performance of something, esp. a company, and make it successful.turn someone away refuse to allow someone to enter or pass through a place.turn back (or turn someone/something back) go (or cause to go) back in the direction in which one has come: they turned back before reaching the church.turn someone down reject an offer or application made by someone: the Air Force turned him down on medical grounds.turn something down1. reject something offered or proposed: his novel was turned down by publisher after publisher.2. adjust a control on a device to reduce the volume, heat, etc.turn in inf. go to bed in the evening.turn someone in hand someone over to the authorities.turn something in give something to someone in authority: I've turned in my resignation. ∎ produce or achieve a particular score or a performance of a specified quality.turn off leave one road in order to join another.turn someone off inf. induce a feeling of boredom or disgust in someone.turn something off stop the operation or flow of something by means of a valve, switch, or button: remember to turn off the gas. ∎ operate a valve or switch in order to do this.turn on1. suddenly attack (someone) physically or verbally: he turned on her with cold savagery.2. have as the main topic or point of interest: for most businessmen, the central questions will turn on taxation.turn someone on inf. excite or stimulate the interest of someone, esp. sexually.turn something on start the flow or operation of something by means of a valve, switch, or button: she turned on the TV. ∎ operate a valve or switch in order to do this.turn someone on to inf. cause someone to become interested or involved in (something, esp. drugs): he turned her on to heroin.turn out1. prove to be the case: the job turned out to be beyond his rather limited abilities.2. go somewhere in order to do something, esp. to attend a meeting, to play a game, or to vote: over 75 percent of the electorate turned out to vote.turn someone out1. eject or expel someone from a place.2. Mil. call a guard from the guardroom.3. (be turned out) be dressed in the manner specified: she was smartly turned out and as well groomed as always.turn something out1. extinguish a light.2. produce something: the plant takes 53 hours to turn out each car.3. empty something, esp. one's pockets.4. tip prepared food from a mold or other container.turn over (of an engine) start or continue to run properly.turn someone over to deliver someone to the care or custody of (another person or body, esp. one in authority): they turned him over to the police.turn something over1. cause an engine to run.2. transfer control or management of something to someone else: a plan to turn the bar over to a new manager.3. change the function or use of something: the works was turned over to the production of aircraft parts.4. inf. rob a place.5. (of a business) have a turnover of a specified amount: last year the company turned over $12 million.turn up1. be found, esp. by chance, after being lost: all the missing documents had turned up.2. put in an appearance; arrive: half the guests failed to turn up.turn something up1. increase the volume or strength of sound, heat, etc., by turning a knob or switch on a device.2. reveal or discover something: New Yorkers confidently expect the inquiry to turn up nothing.3. shorten a garment by raising the hem.
turn about is fair play proverbial saying, mid 18th century, recommending equality of opportunity.
a turn-up for the book a completely unexpected (especially welcome) result or happening; turn-up the turning up of a particular card or die in a game; book as kept by a bookie on a race-course.
See also turn to ashes in one's mouth, a bad penny always turns up, turn a blind eye, turn the other cheek, turn in one's grave, turn over a new leaf, even a worm will turn.
Hence turn sb. XIII (Or — AN. t(o)urn). turner one who fashions objects of wood, etc. on a lathe. XIV — OF. tornere, -eor — late L. tornātor, -ōr-, turning-point point marked by change of procedure. XIX.