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1838, from French turbine, from Latin turbinem (nominative turbo) "spinning top, eddy, whirlwind," related to turba "turmoil, crowd" (see turbid). Originally applied to a wheel spinning on a vertical axis, driven by falling water. Turbo in reference to gas turbine engines is attested from 1904. Turbocharger is from 1934. Aeronautic turboprop is attested from 1945, with second element short for propeller.
Any of various machines in which the kinetic energy of a moving fluid, such as water, steam, or gas, is converted to rotary motion. Turbines are used in boat propulsion systems, hydroelectric power generators, and jet aircraft engines. See also gas turbine.