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In an alternating cycle; in successive or rotating turns. I think something was wrong, for her manner was by turns welcoming and cold, which made for a disconcerting evening. My wife and I divide household tasks by turns.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Alternately, one after another, as in She is by turns cheerful, serious, and sad. [First half of 1500s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
by ˈturn(s)used when talking of contrasting feelings or actions which follow each other: He looked surprised, worried and angry by turn. ♢ When they told me I had got the job in New York, I felt by turns excited and anxious.
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