turn around

See also: turnaround and turn-around



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turn around (countable and uncountable, plural turn arounds)

  1. Alternative spelling of turnaround


turn around (third-person singular simple present turns around, present participle turning around, simple past and past participle turned around)

  1. (ergative) To physically rotate (usually around a vertical axis) for a half turn (180 degrees), a whole turn (360 degrees), or an indefinite amount.
    At the end of the road, we turned around and walked back to the hotel.
    The world turns around once every twenty-four hours.
    Turn around once or twice so I can see your new dress.
    A wheel turns around on an axle.
    If you kids don't cut it out I will turn this car around!
    • 1756 November, Isaac Kimber, Edward Kimber, editor, The London magazine, or, Gentleman's monthly intelligencer[1], volume 25, page 517:
      ...and called him his father; this overpowered the brave man's heart, and obliged him to turn around, to prevent the tears that stood ready to gush from his eyes.
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To change drastically in a fundamental way, often for the better; to change to the opposite (opinion or position).
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21:
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic who still resists the idea that something drastic needs to happen for him to turn his life around.
    She turned her position around and now she is in favor of the merger.
  3. (transitive, business, management, sports) To reverse an expected outcome (of a game, etc.), usually from a losing outcome to a winning one; to return (a business, department, etc.) to effectiveness, profitability, etc.
    • 2011 February 1, Phil McNulty, “Arsenal 2-1 Everton”, in BBC:
      It took changes from Wenger and a rare defensive lapse from Everton before Arsenal finally turned the game around with two goals in the space of five minutes.
    • 2019 November 3, Liam de Carme, “Boks, you beauties”, in Sunday Times[2]:
      Pollard, who went into the semifinals with an unsatisfactory 63% return from the kicking tee, turned it around splendidly against Wales and he continued that form despite missing his first attempt in the final.
    The new management team has really turned the company around 180 degrees, and they expect a good profit next year.
    The team really turned it around in the second half for a great win.
    They were way ahead but the game turned around on them and they lost 4–3.
  4. (transitive, espionage) To convert (an agent) to work for one's own side.
    • 2014, Joseph DiMona, To the Eagle's Nest
      Some months ago, the Captain had come to the FBI with a story that he had been contacted by Soviet agents, and the FBI had “turned him around” and used him to plant false and specially made up classified material of no importance on the Soviets.
  5. (intransitive, idiomatic, colloquial) To suddenly change or reverse one's opinion, point of view, stated position, behaviour, etc.
    You can't just turn around and say that it was all my fault.
  6. (transitive, idiomatic, of an idea) To consider from a different viewpoint.
    Let's turn that around and look at it from another angle.
  7. (transitive, idiomatic, colloquial) (often with a unit of time) To produce; to output; to generate
    We can turn around 500 units by next week.

Usage notesEdit

The business and sports sense is often followed by the intensifier 180 degrees. Deriving from this, phrases such as "I turned the project around 360 degrees" are belittled by prescriptivists, mathematicians and cartoonists alike. Often, the speaker intends the meaning of "180 degrees" but by evidence of their complete misunderstanding of conversational geometry, not only says the opposite, but gives listeners a good reason to believe that their intended effect did not come to pass. Instead, the situation was probably made worse; at best, one could suppose the net effect was nil, as if there truly had been a literal 360 degree rotation, exactly as the speaker said.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.