Etymology: Middle English; partly from Old English tyrnan & turnian to turn, from Medieval Latin tornare, from Latin, to turn on a lathe, from tornus lathe, from Greek tornos; partly from Anglo-French turner, tourner to turn, from Medieval Latin tornare; akin to Latin terere to rub — more at throw
Date: before 12th century
a. to cause to move around an axis or a center ; make rotate or revolve <turn a wheel> <turn a crank> b. (1) to cause to move around so as to effect a desired end (as of locking, opening, or shutting) <turned the knob till the door opened> (2) to affect or alter the functioning of (as a mechanical device) or the level of (as sound) by such movement <turn the oven to 400°> <turn the music to full volume> c. to execute or perform by rotating or revolving <turn handsprings> d. to twist out of line or shape ; wrench <had turned his ankle> 2. a. (1) to cause to change position by moving through an arc of a circle <turned her chair to the fire> (2) to cause to move around a center so as to show another side of <turn the page> (3) to cause (as a scale) to move so as to register weight b. to revolve mentally ; think over ; ponder 3. a. to reverse the sides or surfaces of ; invert <turn pancakes> <turn the shirt inside out>: as (1) to dig or plow so as to bring the lower soil to the surface <turn the compost weekly> (2) to make (as a garment) over by reversing the material and resewing <turn a collar> (3) to invert feet up and face down (as a character, rule, or slug) in setting type b. to reverse or upset the order or disposition of <everything was turned topsy-turvy> c. to disturb or upset the mental balance of ; derange, unsettle <a mind turned by grief> d. to set in another especially contrary direction 4. a. to bend or change the course of ; divert <a battle that turned the tide of history> b. to cause to retreat <used fire hoses to turn the mob> c. to alter the drift, tendency, or expected result of d. to bend a course around or about ; round <turned the corner at full speed> 5. a. (1) to direct or point (as the face) in a specified way or direction (2) to present by a change in direction or position <turning his back to his guests> b. to bring to bear (as by aiming, pointing, or focusing) ; train <turned the light into the dark doorway> <turned a questioning eye toward her> c. to direct (as the attention or mind) toward or away from something d. to direct the employment of ; apply, devote <turned his skills to the service of mankind> e. (1) to cause to rebound or recoil <turns their argument against them> (2) to make antagonistic ; prejudice <turn a child against its mother> f. (1) to cause to go in a particular direction <turned our steps homeward> (2) drive, send <turn cows to pasture> <turning hunters off his land> (3) to convey or direct out of an inverted receptacle <turn the mixture into a baking dish> 6. a. (1) to make acid or sour (2) to change the color of (as foliage) b. (1) convert, transform <turn defeat into victory> (2) translate, paraphrase c. to cause to become of a specified nature or appearance <turned him into a frog> <embarrassment turned her face red> d. to exchange for something else <turn coins into paper money> e. to cause to defect to another side 7. a. to shape especially in a rounded form by applying a cutting tool while revolving in a lathe b. to give a rounded form to by any means <turn the heel of a sock> c. to shape or mold artistically, gracefully, or neatly <a well turned phrase> 8. to make a fold, bend, or curve in: a. to form by bending <turn a lead pipe> b. to cause (the edge of a blade) to bend back or over ; blunt, dull 9. a. to keep (as money or goods) moving; specifically to dispose of (a stock) to make room for another b. to gain in the course of business <turning a quick profit> c. to make use of <turned her education to advantage> d. to carry to completion ; pull off <turned a double play> <turn a deal> 10. to engage in (an act of prostitution) <turn tricks> intransitive verb 1. a. to move around on an axis or through an arc of a circle ; rotate b. to become giddy or dizzy ; spin <heights always made his head turn> c. (1) to have as a decisive factor ; hinge <the argument turns on a point of logic> <the outcome of the game turned on an interception> (2) to have a center (as of interest) in something specified <the discussion turned on the overall worth of the project> (3) to become focused on something specified <the conversation turned to baseball> 2. a. to direct one's course b. (1) to reverse a course or direction <the tide has turned> (2) to have a reactive usually adverse effect c. to take a different course or direction <turned toward home> <the main road turns sharply to the right> 3. a. to change position (as of one's head) so as to face another way <everyone turned to stare> b. to face toward or away from someone or something <flowers turn toward the light> c. to change one's attitude or reverse one's course of action to one of opposition or hostility <felt the world had turned against him> d. to make a sudden violent assault especially without evident cause <dogs turning on their owners> 4. a. to direct one's attention to or away from someone or something b. (1) to change one's religion (2) to go over to another side or party ; defect c. to have recourse ; refer, resort <turned to a friend for help> <turned to his notes for the exact figures> d. to direct one's efforts or activity ; devote or apply oneself <turned to the study of the law> <turned to a life of crime> 5. a. to become changed, altered, or transformed <the weather turned>: as (1) archaic to become different (2) to change color <the leaves have turned> (3) to become sour, rancid, or tainted <the milk had turned> (4) to be variable or inconstant (5) to become mentally unbalanced ; become deranged b. (1) to pass from one state to another ; change <water had turned to ice> (2) become, grow <his hair had turned gray> <the weather turned bad> <just turned twenty> (3) to become someone or something specified by change from another state ; change into <turn pro> <doctors turned authors> (4) to change by the passage of time <days turned into weeks and months> 6. to become curved or bent (as from pressure); especially to become blunted by bending <the edge of the knife had turned> 7. to operate a lathe 8. of merchandise to be stocked and disposed of ; change hands • turnable adjective II. noun Etymology: Middle English; partly from Anglo-French tur, tourn turning, circuit (from turner to turn); partly from Middle English turnen to turn Date: 13th century 1. a. the action or an act of turning about a center or axis ; revolution, rotation b. any of various rotating or pivoting movements in dancing or gymnastics 2. a. the action or an act of giving or taking a different direction ; change of course or posture <an illegal left turn>: as (1) a drill maneuver in which troops in mass formation change direction without preserving alignment (2) any of various shifts of direction in skiing (3) an interruption of a curve in figure skating b. deflection, deviation c. the action or an act of turning so as to face in the opposite direction ; reversal of posture or course <an about turn> <the turn of the tide> d. a change effected by turning over to another side <a turn of the cards> e. a place at which something turns, turns off, or turns back ; bend, curve 3. a short trip out and back or round about <took a turn through the park> 4. an act or deed affecting another especially when incidental or unexpected <one good turn deserves another> 5. a. a period of action or activity ; go, spell <took a turn at the piano> b. a place, time, or opportunity accorded an individual or unit of a series in simple succession or in a scheduled order <waiting her turn in line> c. a period or tour of duty ; shift d. a short act or piece (as for a variety show); also public appearance ; performance <makes frequent guest star turns> e. (1) an event in any gambling game after which bets are settled (2) the order of the last three cards in faro — used in the phrase call the turn 6. something that revolves around a center: as a. (1) lathe (2) a catch or latch for a cupboard or cabinet door operated by turning a handle b. a musical ornament consisting of a group of four or more notes that wind about the principal note by including the notes next above and next below 7. a special purpose or requirement — used chiefly in the phrase serve one's turn 8. a. an act of changing ; alteration, modification <a nasty turn in the weather> b. a change in tendency, trend, or drift <hoped for a turn in his luck> <a turn for the better> <an unexpected turn of events> c. the beginning of a new period of time ; the time when one period changes to the next <the turn of the century> 9. a. distinctive quality or character b. a fashioning of language or arrangement of words ; manner of expression <skillful turns of phrase> c. the shape or mold in which something is fashioned ; cast 10. a. the state or manner of being coiled or twisted b. a single round (as of rope passed about an object or of wire wound on a core) 11. natural or special ability or aptitude ; bent, inclination <a turn for logic> <an optimistic turn of mind> 12. a special twist, construction, or interpretation <gave the old yarn a new turn> 13. a. a disordering spell or attack (as of illness, faintness, or dizziness) b. a nervous start or shock <snuck up on her and gave her quite a turn> 14. a. a complete transaction involving a purchase and sale of securities; also a profit from such a transaction b. turnover 7b 15. something turned or to be turned: as a. a character or slug inverted in setting type b. a piece of type placed bottom up
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.