any of various aquatic chelonian reptiles, esp those of the marine family Chelonidae, having a flattened shell enclosing the body and flipper-like limbs adapted for swimming related adjectives chelonian testudinal
(US & Canadian) any of the chelonian reptiles, including the tortoises and terrapins
(nautical) a zip bag made as part of a spinnaker for holding the sail so that it can be set rapidly
turn turtle, to capsize
(intransitive) to catch or hunt turtles
C17: from French tortuetortoise (influenced by turtle²)
reptile, 1609, "marine tortoise," from Fr. tortue "turtle, tortoise," of unknown origin. The Eng. word is perhaps a sailors' mauling of the French one, infl. by the similar sounding turtle (2). Later extended to land tortoises. Turtleneck "close-fitting collar" is recorded from 1895.
"turtledove," O.E. turtle, dissimilation of L. turtur "turtledove," a reduplicated form imitative of the bird's call. Graceful, harmonious and affectionate to its mate, hence a term of endearment in M.E. Turtledove is attested from c.1300.
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with turn turtle
Capsize, turn upside down, as in When they collided, the car turned turtle. This expression alludes to the helplessness of a turtle turned on its back, where its shell can no longer protect it.
[ First half of 1800s