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[tur-tl] /ˈtɜr tl/
noun, plural turtles (especially collectively) turtle.
any reptile of the order Testudines, comprising aquatic and terrestrial species having the trunk enclosed in a shell consisting of a dorsal carapace and a ventral plastron.
(not used technically) an aquatic turtle as distinguished from a terrestrial one.
Compare tortoise (def 1).
verb (used without object), turtled, turtling.
to catch turtles, especially as a business.
turn turtle,
  1. Nautical. to capsize or turn over completely in foundering.
  2. to overturn; upset:
    Several of the cars turned turtle in the course of the race.
Origin of turtle1
1625-35; alteration (influenced by turtle2) of French tortue < Medieval Latin tortūca tortoise
Related forms
turtler, noun


[tur-tl] /ˈtɜr tl/
noun, Archaic.
a turtledove.
before 1000; Middle English, Old English < Latin turtur (imitative) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for turtle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This turtle was a godsend, and was just what I needed to change my diet.

    Perseverance Island Douglas Frazar
  • Like the turtle, the large alligator has its annual migrations.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • As soon as the turtle felt the water it let go, and started to swim off.

  • Spotty the turtle was also there, not to mention Longlegs the Heron.

  • He carries two turtle doves as the thank offering required of the mother by the religious law.

    Rembrandt Estelle M. Hurll
British Dictionary definitions for turtle


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
Derived Forms
turtler, noun
Word Origin
C17: from French tortuetortoise (influenced by turtle²)


an archaic name for turtledove
Word Origin
Old English turtla, from Latin turtur, of imitative origin; related to German Turteltaube
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for turtle

reptile, c.1600, "marine tortoise," from French tortue "turtle, tortoise," of unknown origin. The English word is perhaps a sailors' mauling of the French one, influenced by the similar sounding turtle (n.2). Later extended to land tortoises; sea-turtle is attested from 1610s. Turtleneck "close-fitting collar" is recorded from 1895.

"turtledove," Old English turtle, dissimilation of Latin turtur "turtledove," a reduplicated form imitative of the bird's call. Graceful, harmonious and affectionate to its mate, hence a term of endearment in Middle English. Turtledove is attested from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for turtle

turn up one's nose

verb phrase

To regard or treat with contempt: turned up his nose at the new recipe (1818+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with turtle


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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