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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).



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churn (third-person singular simple present churns, present participle churning, simple past and past participle churned)

  1. (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.
    • Addison
      Churned in his teeth, the foamy venom rose.
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To produce excessive and sometimes undesirable or unproductive activity or motion.
    • 2012 April 25, John Branch, “Snow Fall : The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, in New York Time[1]:
      The slope of the terrain, shaped like a funnel, squeezed the growing swell of churning snow into a steep, twisting gorge.
  3. (intransitive) To move rapidly and repetitively with a rocking motion; to tumble, mix or shake.
    I was so nervous my stomach was churning.
  4. (informal, travel, aviation) (in a booking system) to repeatedly cancel and rebook a reservation in order to refresh ticket time limits or other fare rule restrictions.

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churn (plural churns)

  1. A vessel used for churning.
    a butter churn
  2. (telecommunications) The time when a consumer switches his/her service provider.
  3. (telecommunications) The mass of people who are ready to switch carriers, expressed by the formula Customer Quits/Customer base.

Derived terms[edit]