turn turtle

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A boat that has turned turtle (sense 1) or capsized

Possibly from the fact that turning a turtle and placing it on its back renders it helpless.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (intransitive) Especially of a boat or ship, or some other vehicle: to turn upside down.
    Synonym: turtle (verb)
  2. (intransitive, surfing) To roll upside down with one's surfboard (usually a longboard) to allow a wave, especially a wave that has already broken, to pass over.
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To fail; to go belly up.
    • 2016, Bill Christine, Bill Hartack: The Bittersweet Life of a Hall of Fame Jockey (page 110)
      On a day-to-day basis, his business turned turtle; some years he wouldn't even win a hundred races.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ W[illiam] H[enry] Smyth; revised [...] by E[dward] Belcher (1867), “TURN A TURTLE, To”, in The Sailor’s Word-book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms, [], London: Blackie & Son, [], OCLC 220591803, pages 702–703.