From Middle English cherne, chrine, chyrne, kyrne ( > Scots kirn), from Old English ċyrn, ċyrin, ċirin (“a churn”), from Proto-Germanic *kernǭ (“churn”), of unknown origin. Cognate with West Frisian tsjerne, Dutch karn, Walloon serene, German Karn, Kirne, Danish kjærne, Swedish kärna, Icelandic kirna (“a churn”).
churn (third-person singular simple present churns, present participle churning, simple past and past participle churned)
- (transitive) To agitate rapidly and repetitively, or to stir with a rowing or rocking motion; generally applies to liquids, notably cream.
Now the cream is churned to make butter.
no-churn ice cream
- 1717, Joseph Addison, Metamorphoses
Churned in his teeth, the foamy venom rose.
- (transitive, figuratively) To produce excessive and sometimes undesirable or unproductive activity or motion.
2012, John Branch, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, in New York Times:
The slope of the terrain, shaped like a funnel, squeezed the growing swell of churning snow into a steep, twisting gorge.
- (intransitive) To move rapidly and repetitively with a rocking motion; to tumble, mix or shake.
I was so nervous that my stomach was churning.
- (informal, travel, aviation) To repeatedly cancel and rebook a reservation in order to refresh ticket time limits or other fare rule restrictions.
- (US, informal, finance, travel) To continually sign up for new credit cards in order to earn signup bonuses, airline miles, and other benefits.
- Bulgarian: разбърквам (bg) (razbǎrkvam)
- Czech: stloukat impf, stlouci pf
- Dutch: karnen (nl) (butter), agiteren (nl), (fluid), klutsen (nl)
- Faroese: kirna
- Finnish: kirnuta (fi)
- French: baratter (fr)
- Galician: anazar, bater (gl), petar (gl), mazar
- German: durchschütteln, aufwühlen
- Hungarian: köpül (hu)
- Icelandic: strokka
- Italian: frullare (it), sbattere (it), ribollire (it), spumeggiare
figuratively: produce excessive motion
churn (countable and uncountable, plural churns)
- A vessel used for churning, especially for producing butter.
a butter churn
- (telecommunications) The time when a consumer switches his/her service provider.
- (telecommunications) The mass of people who are ready to switch carriers.
- Cyclic activity that achieves nothing.
- 2007, Hari Kunzru, My Revolutions (page 102)
I wished my brain would shut up and knew that soon I'd have to start tidying, but first I needed to rest, so I tried to quell the pointless churn behind my eyes and kept on trying (in a minute) until Vicky came back home.
time when customer switches provider
people ready to switch carrier