Definition of about-turn in English:

about-turn

(North American about-face)

noun

British
  • 1(chiefly in military contexts) a turn made so as to face the opposite direction:

    ‘he did an about-turn and marched out of the tent’
    • ‘He turned a sharp about-face and strode forward.’
    • ‘Marching stiffly across the room he performed a perfect about-turn before slapping his tiny sandalled foot on the clay floor and saluting.’
    • ‘He took me by surprise by reaching out and squeezing my hand before making a complete about-face and heading into the nearest elevator.’
    • ‘Their chests swelled with pride as they saluted the general, did an about-face, and marched away exuberantly.’
    • ‘Kai turns a sharp about-face and exits, not saying a word to Keetra.’
    • ‘I suggested a quick about-turn, and started outlining directions for the city centre.’
    • ‘Brakes squealed as the few cars that happened to travel down that road screeched to a stop and promptly did an about-face, quickly driving in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘Finally, Wren and I saluted and did an about-face, turning around to face the platoon.’
    • ‘Then she did an about-face, marched right back into the guy's office, and declared, ‘I have one more thing to say to you: I am your customer.’’
    • ‘Motorists at Dr Cullen roundabout were doing an about-turn all this week, as Carlovians caught their first glimpse of the town's latest sculpture.’
    • ‘It would mean officers arrive at the station, complete their pocket book and do an about-turn to go straight back out onto the streets.’
    • ‘The soldier shook his head, they saluted once again, and he turned a perfect about-face and walked back down the steps to his horse.’
    about-face, volte-face, turnaround, turnround, turnabout, u-turn, rowback
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A complete change of opinion or policy:
      ‘the government made an about-turn over the bill’
      • ‘More important than his about-face in the context of my analysis is Rethel's awareness of his own position as artist.’
      • ‘At this crucial period of their lives they were surrounded by people who, in very many cases, undertook a complete about-turn with regard to their social and political views.’
      • ‘That one was so outrageous that it antagonized the entire civilized world, and undoubtedly contributed to the Europeans' about-face on lifting military sanctions against China.’
      • ‘Last March, Eircom did an about-turn in strategy and announced that it was planning to spin off part of its multimedia businesses into a new company and float the resulting entity on the stock market.’
      • ‘The abrupt about-face followed mounting public opposition, protests calling for her resignation and growing pressure from her own allies.’
      • ‘In an about-turn, Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer ruled in favour on Friday of the four policemen, and ordered that each receive $100,000 in damages.’
      • ‘Now, the Greens are going to turn around and support it; what an about-face!’
      • ‘The decision marks an abrupt about-turn for the board.’
      • ‘Traditionally conservative Singapore is also making a complete about-face.’
      • ‘The party's recent troubles following the policy about-face on the reform of the grassroots financial institutions illustrates the problem.’
      • ‘But I can't come up with any other force besides the president that would be strong enough to make the military do an about-face.’
      • ‘There is nothing intrinsically wrong with politicians doing an about-face, even when the reversal is as stunning as this one.’
      • ‘The economy's sudden about-face serves as a dramatic reminder that such changes can be both large and unpredictable, rendering budget projections obsolete before the ink in which they are written has begun to dry.’
      • ‘Either way it is an accurate account of what happened to Orwell's thinking: this was an about-face, a real or metaphoric overnight conversion.’
      • ‘Lil looked up, surprised by the complete about-face he had just done.’
      • ‘Tewkesbury borough councillors have done an about-turn and withdrawn their support for the county council's controversial one-way system in Tewkesbury High Street.’
      • ‘I simply say to the member opposite that he has done an absolute about-face.’
      • ‘Sweden announced on Friday that it is seeking restrictions on workers from the incoming members, including its Baltic neighbours, following about-turns from the Dutch, Danes and Greeks.’
      • ‘The sale of the marine shipping assets represents an about-face in direction for BC Rail in recent years.’
      • ‘In Germany, the food scare has sparked an about-face on agricultural policy.’
      reversal, retraction, backtracking, swing, shift, swerve, u-turn, volte-face, turnaround, turnround
      View synonyms

verb

[NO OBJECT]British
  • Turn so as to face the opposite direction:

    ‘suddenly he about-turned and saluted again’
    • ‘So with the number of options diminishing, and last orders long since called, we reluctantly about-faced and came out the same way.’
    • ‘But she must have said something terribly outrageous, indicated in some obvious way that things weren't altogether normal, because he immediately about-faced and ran in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘He saw Stella, blushed and twirled his hair around with a pencil, and then about-turned sharpish back out of the room.’
    • ‘Short of the fall of the iron curtain, few world leaders have ever about-faced so fast.’
    • ‘But the optimism rapidly evaporated with his abrupt about-face a few days later.’
    • ‘It's bad enough that a company which had previously welcomed Matthew's efforts about-faced and got nasty.’
    • ‘He glanced around for a moment to make sure no one was around, then about-faced and began walking away.’
    • ‘I about-faced, marched from the porch and started for the road.’
    • ‘Hugh about-turned, and headed in the opposite direction to be met with a similar fate.’
    • ‘But going by the poor performance trends in the growth of the sector, the government had by 1997 about-turned and abandoned the liberalisation of fertiliser and fixed the prices for the whole of the country.’
    • ‘I about-faced, and it was him: braids replaced by a processed pageboy, teale-and-black basketball jersey, baggy olive-drab shorts.’
    • ‘Peterson sneered, then about-faced and walked back into the Oval Office.’
    • ‘The customary smirk returned to Trey's lips and he about-faced, coming closer to the nervous young man.’
    • ‘She nods frantically, distractedly, ponytail slicing a semi-circle through the air as she about-faces for a new strip of floor to stomp across.’
    • ‘Suddenly she about-faced and grappled him into the undergrowth.’
    • ‘I was ready to about-face and let him drag me home when I noticed an imposing shape in the distance.’
    • ‘We about-face and paddle back against the wind to Hoover Dam.’
    • ‘With that she about-faced and led me out of the room.’
    • ‘The big dog otter probably got as much of a fright as he did, about-turned and leapt into the water.’
    about-face, turn around, turn round, turn about, do a u-turn, reverse, row back
    View synonyms

exclamation

about turn!
British
  • A military command to make an about-turn.

    • ‘Finally, looking back he said, ‘O soldiers of Kalinjar, right about turn!’’

Origin

Late 19th century (originally as a military command): shortening of right about turn.

Pronunciation:

about-turn

/əbaʊtˈtɛːn/