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See also: Turtle



English Wikipedia has an article on:
A Florida box turtle, a land turtle.
A sea turtle.

Etymology 1[edit]

Modification of Middle English tortou, tortu, from Old French tortüe (under the influence of Middle English turtel, turtur (turtledove), see Etymology 2 below), from Medieval Latin tortuca (compare Spanish tortuga), the same source of tortoise (see there for more). Displaced native Old English byrdling.

Alternative forms[edit]


turtle (plural turtles)

  1. (zoology, US, Canada) Any land or marine reptile of the order Testudines, characterised by a protective shell enclosing its body. See also tortoise.
    Synonyms: (obsolete) shellpad, (archaic) shield-toad
  2. (zoology, Australia, Britain, specifically) A marine reptile of that order.
    Synonym: sea turtle
  3. (military, historical) An Ancient Roman attack method, where the shields held by the soldiers hide them, not only left, right, front and back, but also from above.
    Synonym: testudo
  4. (computing) A type of robot having a domed case (and so resembling the reptile), used in education, especially for making line drawings by means of a computer program.
  5. (computing) An on-screen cursor that serves the same function as a turtle for drawing.
    • 1997, Brian Harvey, Computer Science Logo Style: Symbolic computing:
      Depending on which version of Logo you have, the turtle may look like an actual animal with a head and four legs or — as in Berkeley Logo — it may be represented as a triangle.
  6. (printing, historical) The curved plate in which the form is held in a type-revolving cylinder press.
  7. (computing theory) A small element towards the end of a list of items to be bubble sorted, and thus tending to take a long time to be swapped into its correct position. Compare rabbit.
  8. (dance) A breakdancing move consisting of a float during which the dancer's weight shifts from one hand to the other, producing rotation or a circular "walk".
  9. (television) A low stand for a lamp etc.
    • Alan Bermingham, Location Lighting for Television
      Using an appropriate turtle allows the full range of pan and tilt adjustments on the luminaire and avoids possible heat damage to floor coverings.
Derived terms[edit]
terms derived from turtle in the above senses
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


turtle (third-person singular simple present turtles, present participle turtling, simple past and past participle turtled)

  1. (intransitive) To flip over onto the back or top; to turn upside down.
    • 1919, Iowa Highway Commission, Service Bulletin, Issues 15-32, page 48
      Were speeding when car turtled [] Auto crashed into curb and turtled.
  2. (intransitive) To move along slowly.
    • 2012, Sophie B. Watson, Cadillac Couches, page 193:
      We turtled along in Manitoba, back into the heart of the prairies.
  3. (intransitive) To turn and swim upside down.
    • 2009, Amy Waeschle, Chasing Waves: A Surfer's Tale of Obsessive Wandering, page 149:
      I turtled my board beneath it, flipped upright, and started paddling again.
  4. (intransitive) To hunt turtles, especially in the water.
    • 1973, Bernard Nietschmann, Between Land and Water: The Subsistence Ecology of the Miskito Indians, page 153:
      Of these, 80 turtled (65%), 26 hunted and turtled (20%), and 18 hunted (15%).
  5. (video games, board games) To build up a large defense force and strike only occasionally, rather than going for an offensive strategy.

See also[edit]


Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English turtle, tortle, turtel, turtul, from Old English turtle, turtla (turtledove), ultimately from Latin turtur (turtledove), of imitative origin.


turtle (plural turtles)

  1. (now rare, archaic) A turtle dove.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book IV, Canto VIII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC:
      The same he tooke, and with a riband new, / In which his Ladies colours were, did bind / About the turtles neck [] .
    • 1613, John Marston, William Barksted, The Insatiate Countess, I.1:
      As the turtle, every day has been a black day with her since her husband died, and what should we unruly members make here?
Derived terms[edit]


Old English[edit]


Ultimately from Latin turtur (turtledove), of imitative origin.


  • IPA(key): /ˈturt.le/, [ˈturˠt.le]


turtle f

  1. turtle dove
    Synonym: *turtledūfe


Coordinate terms[edit]

  • turtla m (turtle dove (male))


  • Middle English: turtle, tortle, turtel, turtul