To turn tail
Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner's chisel, a carpenter's tool for drawing circles; probably akin to E. throw. See {Throw}, and cf. {Attorney}, {Return}, {Tornado}, {Tour}, {Tournament}.] 1. To cause to move upon a center, or as if upon a center; to give circular motion to; to cause to revolve; to cause to move round, either partially, wholly, or repeatedly; to make to change position so as to present other sides in given directions; to make to face otherwise; as, to turn a wheel or a spindle; to turn the body or the head. [1913 Webster]

Turn the adamantine spindle round. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

The monarch turns him to his royal guest. --Pope. [1913 Webster]

2. To cause to present a different side uppermost or outmost; to make the upper side the lower, or the inside to be the outside of; to reverse the position of; as, to turn a box or a board; to turn a coat. [1913 Webster]

3. To give another direction, tendency, or inclination to; to direct otherwise; to deflect; to incline differently; -- used both literally and figuratively; as, to turn the eyes to the heavens; to turn a horse from the road, or a ship from her course; to turn the attention to or from something. ``Expert when to advance, or stand, or, turn the sway of battle.'' --Milton. [1913 Webster]

Thrice I deluded her, and turned to sport Her importunity. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

My thoughts are turned on peace. --Addison. [1913 Webster]

4. To change from a given use or office; to divert, as to another purpose or end; to transfer; to use or employ; to apply; to devote. [1913 Webster]

Therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David. --1 Chron. x. 14. [1913 Webster]

God will make these evils the occasion of a greater good, by turning them to advantage in this world. --Tillotson. [1913 Webster]

When the passage is open, land will be turned most to cattle; when shut, to sheep. --Sir W. Temple. [1913 Webster]

5. To change the form, quality, aspect, or effect of; to alter; to metamorphose; to convert; to transform; -- often with to or into before the word denoting the effect or product of the change; as, to turn a worm into a winged insect; to turn green to blue; to turn prose into verse; to turn a Whig to a Tory, or a Hindu to a Christian; to turn good to evil, and the like. [1913 Webster]

The Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee. --Deut. xxx. 3. [1913 Webster]

And David said, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. --2 Sam. xv. 31. [1913 Webster]

Impatience turns an ague into a fever. --Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster]

6. To form in a lathe; to shape or fashion (anything) by applying a cutting tool to it while revolving; as, to turn the legs of stools or tables; to turn ivory or metal. [1913 Webster]

I had rather hear a brazen candlestick turned. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

7. Hence, to give form to; to shape; to mold; to put in proper condition; to adapt. ``The poet's pen turns them to shapes.'' --Shak. [1913 Webster]

His limbs how turned, how broad his shoulders spread ! --Pope. [1913 Webster]

He was perfectly well turned for trade. --Addison. [1913 Webster]

8. Specifically: (a) To translate; to construe; as, to turn the Iliad. [1913 Webster]

Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown. --Pope. [1913 Webster] (b) To make acid or sour; to ferment; to curdle, etc.: as, to turn cider or wine; electricity turns milk quickly. [1913 Webster] (c) To sicken; to nauseate; as, an emetic turns one's stomach. [1913 Webster]

9. To make a turn about or around (something); to go or pass around by turning; as, to turn a corner.

The ranges are not high or steep, and one can turn a kopje instead of cutting or tunneling through it. --James Bryce.

{To be turned of}, be advanced beyond; as, to be turned of sixty-six.

{To turn a cold shoulder to}, to treat with neglect or indifference.

{To turn a corner}, to go round a corner.

{To turn adrift}, to cast off, to cease to care for.

{To turn a flange} (Mech.), to form a flange on, as around a metal sheet or boiler plate, by stretching, bending, and hammering, or rolling the metal.

{To turn against}. (a) To direct against; as, to turn one's arguments against himself. (b) To make unfavorable or hostile to; as, to turn one's friends against him.

{To turn a hostile army}, {To turn the enemy's flank}, or the like (Mil.), to pass round it, and take a position behind it or upon its side.

{To turn a penny}, or {To turn an honest penny}, to make a small profit by trade, or the like.

{To turn around one's finger}, to have complete control of the will and actions of; to be able to influence at pleasure.

{To turn aside}, to avert.

{To turn away}. (a) To dismiss from service; to discard; as, to turn away a servant. (b) To avert; as, to turn away wrath or evil.

{To turn back}. (a) To give back; to return. [1913 Webster]

We turn not back the silks upon the merchants, When we have soiled them. --Shak. [1913 Webster] (b) To cause to return or retrace one's steps; hence, to drive away; to repel. --Shak.

{To turn down}. (a) To fold or double down. (b) To turn over so as to conceal the face of; as, to turn down cards. (c) To lower, or reduce in size, by turning a valve, stopcock, or the like; as, turn down the lights.

{To turn in}. (a) To fold or double under; as, to turn in the edge of cloth. (b) To direct inwards; as, to turn the toes in when walking. (c) To contribute; to deliver up; as, he turned in a large amount. [Colloq.]

{To turn in the mind}, to revolve, ponder, or meditate upon; -- with about, over, etc. `` Turn these ideas about in your mind.'' --I. Watts.

{To turn off}. (a) To dismiss contemptuously; as, to turn off a sycophant or a parasite. (b) To give over; to reduce. (c) To divert; to deflect; as, to turn off the thoughts from serious subjects; to turn off a joke. (d) To accomplish; to perform, as work. (e) (Mech.) To remove, as a surface, by the process of turning; to reduce in size by turning. (f) To shut off, as a fluid, by means of a valve, stopcock, or other device; to stop the passage of; as, to turn off the water or the gas.

{To turn one's coat}, to change one's uniform or colors; to go over to the opposite party.

{To turn one's goods} or {To turn one's money}, and the like, to exchange in the course of trade; to keep in lively exchange or circulation; to gain or increase in trade.

{To turn one's hand to}, to adapt or apply one's self to; to engage in.

{To turn out}. (a) To drive out; to expel; as, to turn a family out of doors; to turn a man out of office. [1913 Webster]

I'll turn you out of my kingdom. -- Shak. [1913 Webster] (b) to put to pasture, as cattle or horses. (c) To produce, as the result of labor, or any process of manufacture; to furnish in a completed state. (d) To reverse, as a pocket, bag, etc., so as to bring the inside to the outside; hence, to produce. (e) To cause to cease, or to put out, by turning a stopcock, valve, or the like; as, to turn out the lights.

{To turn over}. (a) To change or reverse the position of; to overset; to overturn; to cause to roll over. (b) To transfer; as, to turn over business to another hand. (c) To read or examine, as a book, while, turning the leaves. ``We turned o'er many books together.'' --Shak. (d) To handle in business; to do business to the amount of; as, he turns over millions a year. [Colloq.]

{To turn over a new leaf}. See under {Leaf}.

{To turn tail}, to run away; to retreat ignominiously.

{To turn the back}, to flee; to retreat.

{To turn the back on} or

{To turn the back upon}, to treat with contempt; to reject or refuse unceremoniously.

{To turn the corner}, to pass the critical stage; to get by the worst point; hence, to begin to improve, or to succeed.

{To turn the die} or {To turn the dice}, to change fortune.

{To turn the edge of} or {To turn the point of}, to bend over the edge or point of so as to make dull; to blunt.

{To turn the head of} or {To turn the brain of}, to make giddy, wild, insane, or the like; to infatuate; to overthrow the reason or judgment of; as, a little success turned his head.

{To turn the scale} or {To turn the balance}, to change the preponderance; to decide or determine something doubtful; to tip the balance.

{To turn the stomach of}, to nauseate; to sicken.

{To turn the tables}, to reverse the chances or conditions of success or superiority; to give the advantage to the person or side previously at a disadvantage.

{To turn tippet}, to make a change. [Obs.] --B. Jonson.

{To turn to profit}, {To turn to advantage}, etc., to make profitable or advantageous.

{To turn turtle}, to capsize bottom upward; -- said of a vessel. [Naut. slang]

{To turn under} (Agric.), to put, as soil, manure, etc., underneath from the surface by plowing, digging, or the like.

{To turn up}. (a) To turn so as to bring the bottom side on top; as, to turn up the trump. (b) To bring from beneath to the surface, as in plowing, digging, etc. (c) To give an upward curve to; to tilt; as, to turn up the nose.

{To turn upon}, to retort; to throw back; as, to turn the arguments of an opponent upon himself.

{To turn upside down}, to confuse by putting things awry; to throw into disorder. [1913 Webster]

This house is turned upside down since Robin Ostler died. --Shak. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • To turn tail — Tail Tail, n. [AS. t[ae]gel, t[ae]gl; akin to G. zagel, Icel. tagl, Sw. tagel, Goth. tagl hair. [root]59.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) The terminal, and usually flexible, posterior appendage of an animal. [1913 Webster] Note: The tail of mammals and reptiles… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn a cold shoulder to — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn a corner — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn a flange — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn a hostile army — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn a penny — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn adrift — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn against — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn an honest penny — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To turn around one's finger — Turn Turn (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Turned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Turning}.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF. tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L. tornare to turn in a lathe, to rounds off, fr. tornus a lathe, Gr. ? a turner s… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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