Definition of turtle in English:



  • 1A large marine reptile with a bony or leathery shell and flippers, coming ashore annually on sandy beaches to lay eggs.

    1. 1.1mass noun The flesh of a sea turtle, especially the green turtle, used chiefly for soup.
      • ‘However, several species of sea turtles continue to be endangered by the Omani taste for turtle soup.’
      • ‘Pork and turtle are feast foods, with chicken also being reserved for special occasions.’
      • ‘The ball came to an end at 3am, when the waitresses served turtle soup.’
      • ‘Sea cow, turtle, and fish remain ceremonial dishes, along with bougna, a dish of steamed yams and meat cooked under hot stones.’
      • ‘She told me about Escoffier's cookbook and its recipe for turtle soup.’
      • ‘One of the main dishes was a soup - soft shelled turtle soup.’
      • ‘The traditional national dish is turtle; conch is also popular, either served raw with lime juice and onions, or cooked as a stew, chowder, or fritters.’
  • 2A freshwater reptile related to the sea turtles and tortoises, typically having a flattened shell.

    Called terrapin in South Africa and India and tortoise in Australia
    1. 2.1North American Any reptile of the order "Chelonia" , including the terrapins and tortoises.
  • 3A directional cursor in a computer graphics system which can be instructed to move around a screen.


  • turn turtle

    • (chiefly of a boat) turn upside down.

      ‘the other boat nearly turned turtle several times’
      ‘his tractor turned turtle and killed him’
      • ‘The Bismark's excellent fire control and high rate of fire finally shredded Prince of Wales, which slowly turned turtle and sank.’
      • ‘The ship turned turtle and people went out on horses to save survivors.’
      • ‘The Kléber sank swiftly, turning turtle as she went.’
      • ‘Riddled with bullet holes, the flat-bottomed vessel sank, turning turtle as it did so and settling on the 7m bottom.’
      • ‘Top-heavy, like all battleships, the Nagato turned turtle before leaving daylight behind.’
      • ‘She had turned turtle and capsized and those who were not able to get out in the first few hours were surely trapped for good.’
      • ‘But en route at Chavara the ambulance met with an accident and turned turtle.’
      • ‘Four minutes later the ship turned turtle and sank.’
      • ‘The Hampshire has turned turtle with much of the bows broken up where she hit the mine on that fateful day back in 1916.’
      • ‘Kevin bellows instructions, and in quick time we exit the boat, turn turtle and fin towards the edge of the drop-off.’
      overturn, turn over, tip over, roll over, upturn, capsize, turn topsy-turvy
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century: apparently an alteration of French tortue (see tortoise).