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turn the/(one's) clock(s) back

To adjust the time on one's clock(s) back by one hour to account for the end of daylight saving time. Primarily heard in UK. Don't forget to turn your clock back tonight. I hate having to turn the clocks back every autumn, it's such an antiquated custom.
See also: back, turn

turn the/(one's) clock(s) forward

To advance the time on one's clock(s) ahead by one hour to account for the beginning of daylight saving time. Primarily heard in UK. Don't forget to turn your clock forward tonight or you'll end up oversleeping tomorrow! I hate having to turn the clocks forward every spring, it's such an antiquated custom.
See also: forward, turn

turn the scale(s)

To change the balance of a situation, such that one side or element is favored or gains advantage. The two candidates are so close in the polls that both are vying for something that will turn the scale in their favor. The immense interconnectivity of social media has turned the scales of power somewhat back into the hands of the ordinary population.
See also: turn

turn tits up

1. mildly vulgar To break or malfunction; to die, fall apart, or cease to work. (A variant of the more common "go tits up," itself a play on the phrase "go belly up." "Tits up" is sometimes hyphenated.) Sorry Mark, I'd love to give you a lift to the airport, but my car's turned tits up on me again. It looks like our co-op might be turning tits-up if we aren't granted a licence for our communal work premises.
2. mildly vulgar By extension, to have a poor, undesired, or ruinous outcome; to fail completely or not come together at all. We were all set to have our picnic on Saturday, but the weather turned tits up, and we had to cancel at the last minute. The merger deal between the two companies turned tits-up when it came to light that one of the CEOs had been dodging tax obligations for several years.
See also: tit, turn, up

turn a corner

To begin to find success or improvement after a particularly difficult or troubling period. I know that rehab has been hard on you, but I feel like you've been really turning a corner lately. Their new start-up took a couple of years to get going, but they finally turned a corner when their product was featured in a high-profile tech magazine.
See also: corner, turn

without turning a hair

Without becoming upset, afraid, or emotional; with a perfectly calm demeanor. My father was a tough man. When our family dog came down with rabies, he took him out back and shot him without turning a hair. Claire, without turning a hair, knocked out the two assailants with her bare hands!
See also: hair, turning, without

turn a phrase

To express something in very adept, elegant, and clever terms. Mr. Broadmoor is so cultivated and witty. Not only is he remarkably intelligent, but he is always able to turn a phrase most poignantly.
See also: phrase, turn

turn around (something)

To reverse the direction or course of something; to reverse the way something is facing or oriented. I swear, if you kids don't stop fighting back there, I am going to turn around this car and take us straight back home! The company is hiring a new financial consultant to turn around the sales trends of the last two years.
See also: around, turn

turn into a pumpkin

To have to return home or go to bed due to the late hour of the night. (Usually used as a present participle, the phrase is a reference to the story of Cinderella, whose magic carriage turned into a pumpkin at midnight.) I've had a wonderful time, but I'm turning into a pumpkin. I think I'll call a cab and head home.
See also: pumpkin, turn

turn (one's) coat

dated To change one's allegiance or affiliation (especially in politics) for personal gain or advantage. A good politician will espouse the most hard-line stance of his party's political ideologies, but a successful politician knows when to turn his coat.
See also: coat, turn

turn (someone's) crank

To excite or arouse the interest of someone. To be honest, science never turned my crank in school. I was always more interested in literature.
See also: crank, turn

turn the air blue

To use profane language, especially with great rapidity and intensity. My dad turned the air blue after he found out I'd put a dent in his car.
See also: air, blue, turn

turn the screw(s) (on someone)

To exert excessive and coercive pressure, force, or threats of violence on someone. The bank has really started turning the screws on me ever since I began missing my mortgage payments. I'll send one of my men around to him tomorrow to start turning the screw. Then we'll see if Johnny's still so sure he won't sign the contract.
See also: turn

turn the trick

To do, accomplish, or fulfill exactly what is needed or sought after. The recipe calls for pancetta ham, but I think this regular bacon should turn the trick. The movie's plot, such as it is, won't go on to win any awards, but the gory special effects will turn the trick for any fans of the horror genre.
See also: trick, turn

turn full circle

To return to the original or a similar position, situation, or circumstance where one or something started. After the banking sector brought on the economic collapse through lack of federal oversight, things seem to be turning full circle as politicians are beginning to call for deregulation of the industry once again. I used to work in in various kitchens during college to support myself, but now I've turned full circle and am the head chef of my own restaurant.
See also: circle, full, turn

It is a long lane that has no turning.

Prov. Bad times cannot continue forever.; Things will soon improve. Nancy: It's been six months, and neither one of us can find work. I'm afraid we're going to lose everything. Bill: Don't despair, honey. It is a long lane that has no turning. Your luck has been bad for a long time, but it is a long lane that has no turning. I'm sure things will change soon.
See also: lane, long, turning

*turning point

Fig. a time when things may change; a point at which a change of course is possible or desirable. (Originally nautical. Fig. on the image of a ship approaching a point where a change of course has been planned. (*Typically: be at ~; come to ~; reach ~.) Things are at to a turning point. Bob can no longer afford the payments on his car. I think we have come to a turning point and there ought to be some improvement henceforth.
See also: point, turning

the wheels are turning

something is happening By the late 1940s the wheels were turning that would make space flight possible by the end of the 1950s.
See also: turning, wheel

the wheels are turning

something that you say which means a process is starting to happen By the late 1940s the wheels were turning that would make a manned space flight possible by the end of the next decade.
See oil the wheels, set the wheels in motion, spin wheels
See also: turning, wheel

turn a hair, not

Not become afraid or upset, remain calm, as in She didn't turn a hair during the bank robbery. This term, also put as without turning a hair, comes from horse racing. After a race, a horse often has roughened, outward-turned hair. Its figurative use, nearly always in the negative, dates from the late 1800s.
See also: not, turn
References in classic literature ?
You're a nice little article,' returned the Carrier, 'to be talking about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter of an hour behind my time.
It has the power of turning very shortly in the air, and in so doing opens and shuts its tail, sometimes in a horizontal or lateral and sometimes in a vertical direction, just like a pair of scissors.
As for you, you wicked child,' said Miss Monflathers, turning to Nell, 'tell your mistress that if she presumes to take the liberty of sending to me any more, I will write to the legislative authorities and have her put in the stocks, or compelled to do penance in a white sheet; and you may depend upon it that you shall certainly experience the treadmill if you dare to come here again.
You, at least, Sir Knight,'' he added, turning to the victor, who had remained near the gallery, ``will this day share our banquet?
I went back to the beach, and turning eastward past the burning enclosure, made for a point where a shallow spit of coral sand ran out towards the reef.
The two soldiers who had brought him in took him, each by one arm, and led him toward the door, whilst the prince, turning to Marshal de Grammont, seemed to have already forgotten the order he had given.
They separated with a start--one hurried through the gate out of the Grove, and the other, turning round, walked slowly, with a sort of saunter, towards Adam who still stood transfixed and pale, clutching tighter the stick with which he held the basket of tools over his shoulder, and looking at the approaching figure with eyes in which amazement was fast turning to fierceness.
turning to her with a look of anxious entreaty, which softened her a little; but while she hesitated what to say, her brother again interposed with Miss Crawford's better claim.
Men of Helium," I cried, turning to the spectators, and speaking over the heads of my judges, "how can John Carter expect justice from the men of Zodanga?
Kala did not wait to see more, but, turning, moved rapidly back along the trail.
Mind, Annette, I hope you have not played a wicked trick on me," she added, turning to her hostess.
There could be no liberty for me within Pellucidar unless the old man shared it with me, and only the hope that I might find some way to encompass his release kept me from turning back to Phutra.
I am sorry, Captain Granet," she went on, turning towards where he was standing, "but I cannot possibly accept your aunt's invitation.
And the horse really did not lose the road but followed its windings, turning now to the right and now to the left and sensing it under his feet, so that though the snow fell thicker and the wind strengthened they still continued to see way-marks now to the left and now to the right of them.
Boxtel did not deem it fit to answer these several charges, but, turning to the Prince, continued, --