Definition of churn in English:



  • 1A machine or container in which butter is made by agitating milk or cream.

    • ‘Her dress was very stately; it was mostly off-white silk, like the color of buttery cream in a churn.’
    • ‘Some of them saw us and paused at their chores, resting behind their ploughs or looking up from butter churns and gardens.’
    • ‘Since about 1870, they had been in the business of manufacturing churns, butter molds, scales, thermometers, and other tools used in dairying.’
    • ‘It was said that to take a coal from the fire in the house in which a churn was being made was very unlucky for the maker of the butter.’
    • ‘The farmer agreed to do this and started churning again the next morning, in no time at all there was enough butter in the churn to supply half the countryside.’
    • ‘It was also usual, although not very popular, for the one who was last downstairs to have to turn the churn handle until the cream turned into butter.’
    • ‘Even better, through development work on the continuous butter churn, Tong and his team of food scientists propose the production of a butter that has a reduced fat content.’
    • ‘An old woman covered her bare shoulders with a woollen shawl as Estelle struggled with the butter churn by the doorway.’
    • ‘Mr Stone said the 38 cm metal disc was originally attached to the largest type of butter churn made by the company, which was built specifically for the large-scale production of butter.’
    • ‘Jackie thought that was a mug's game, but was happy to separate the cream from the milk (by hand), and make butter in a wooden churn.’
    • ‘She is a perfect mountain woman, shrewd and suspicious, quick to laugh or scowl, handy with a butter churn or a folk remedy.’
    • ‘They found him out back, banging on a butter churn, watched by unimpressed cows.’
    • ‘Occasionally, when there's an abundance of milk, Janet will make butter and cheese by traditional methods using an old, hand-turned butter churn, and her daughter produces free-range bacon.’
    • ‘In the center of the room stands an enormous stainless steel churn, a giant horizontal spatula on wheels to remove the butter from the churn, and a boat, or trough, into which the spatula unloads its haul.’
    • ‘The Country Living-themed event at St Mary's Church, Sand Hutton, will include a pig farm, country kitchen window, milk churns and butter churns.’
    • ‘He has created a motorised butter churn which is an ordinary churn with an engine from a lawn mower attached underneath.’
    • ‘When I was small I had the job of watching the little circular window on the lid of the churn and had to shout when the glass became clear, an indication that the butter had separated.’
    • ‘We are one of only two remaining manufacturers in North America still using a butter churn in the making of buttermilk.’
    • ‘Mothers made butter from milk, they mixed the milk in a butter churn.’
    • ‘There's also a table with three skinny legs and a lidded jar with a thick, straight, vertical handle that rises up like the rod of a butter churn.’
    blender, food processor, liquidizer, stirrer, beater, churn, whisk
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  • 2

    short for churn rate


  • 1[with object] Agitate or turn (milk or cream) in a machine in order to produce butter.

    ‘the cream is ripened before it is churned’
    • ‘Suzanne makes sure that the equipment is all sprayed down, and Alastair churns the cream until it turns into butter.’
    • ‘This milk was separated into cream, being churned into butter and the skin being returned to suppliers for animal feeding.’
    • ‘The organic butter you buy in the grocery store is usually made from mechanically churned cream.’
    • ‘When this milk was churned, the concentration of pesticides increased; that might be the butter you spread on toast.’
    • ‘The butter plant primarily churns cream and packages butter.’
    • ‘The sample of the sound of milk being churned into butter takes on an eerie sound that is more like a pack of marching troopers than a regular act of rural domesticity.’
    • ‘Besides milking a cow and separating off the cream, that cream has to be churned for quite a while at the right temperature, washed and salted and moulded until it's just right.’
    • ‘Our flour comes in the shape of a loaf, our milk churned into butter/cheese.’
    • ‘If the gold ore is not refined one will not obtain the pure gold, if the milk is not churned one will not obtain butter, and if the sesame seed is not pounded one will not produce sesame oil.’
    stir, agitate
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    1. 1.1Produce (butter) by churning.
      • ‘The rest of the afternoon was spent picking tomatoes, churning butter, washing dishes, serving, cleaning the stables and just having fun.’
      • ‘I shall just have to sit and churn butter and weave my own clothing like they did in the old days.’
      • ‘A full slate of activities also is planned, including butter churning, ice cream making and ice cream eating contests.’
      • ‘Yet Ann kept up the old tradition of churning butter.’
      • ‘She was raised on a rustic Tyrolian farm where she learned to churn butter, bake bread, and store provisions for winter.’
      • ‘It has its own salmon-smoking oven and churns its own butter.’
      • ‘It turns out they actually live like that: their jobs are building barns and churning butter and having little card tables at farmer's markets.’
      • ‘Women churned butter, baked potato bread and poured Irish coffees.’
      • ‘Little Samuel was sitting on the front porch churning butter.’
      • ‘Butter and cheese were being churned and sold on the streets, while a pig on a barbecue created a mouth-watering aroma that drifted through the town.’
      • ‘They were also expected to wash milk-pots and churn butter.’
      • ‘Women habitually baked bread, churned butter, brewed beer, sewed clothes, knitted stockings, spun yarn, and even sometimes milled flour and wove cloth.’
      • ‘McDermott was the lady who churned the butter at Rathscanlon.’
      • ‘While children on the frontier learned how to milk cows and churn butter, parents learned how wise 12-year-olds can be.’
      • ‘His mother always made homemade bread and churned butter, and she preserved jams and a myriad of fruits and vegetables for savoring through the year.’
      • ‘An old woman churns butter, while a woman in the foreground prepares a fowl for roasting.’
      • ‘‘There's something I'm good at,’ I muttered, thinking of the fine, silky butter I would churn.’
      • ‘She slowly gained the stamina needed for the intensely hard work of milking and churning butter.’
      • ‘Sometimes she churned fresh butter and traded it.’
      • ‘The buttermaker then drains the buttermilk off and continues churning the butter until it reaches the right texture and firmness.’
  • 2[no object] (of liquid) move about vigorously.

    [no object] ‘the seas churned’
    figurative ‘her stomach was churning at the thought of the ordeal’
    • ‘Hopefully, if my views help make your mind churn, that adds spice to your life as well.’
    • ‘Through the window we watched the brown sea churning beneath the pier.’
    • ‘They hissed and roared, churning the very sea in their great battle.’
    • ‘His hands were quivering, and his stomach felt as though it were churning and moving.’
    • ‘At times strong head-winds whipped up high waves that churned the lake surface into a frenzy, making it difficult to paddle.’
    • ‘While the mixture churns, whiz the strawberries to a purée in a food processor.’
    • ‘The gray green water behind her thrashed and churned.’
    • ‘The sea was churning - almost as much as her stomach was, in nervousness.’
    • ‘Slightly off-centre, a constant whirlpool swirls and churns turbulently, sometimes spitting up a boiling fount.’
    • ‘I write this my stomach is churning a little with tension, remembering how it felt.’
    • ‘Pour in the liquid and churn until it starts to thicken and freeze.’
    • ‘I nodded slowly, feeling liquids inside my head churn roughly.’
    • ‘A blue substance churns and drips through a tube from one chamber to another.’
    • ‘It churned up the sea even more, and beat the yellow rain macs of the fishermen tying down tarpaulins.’
    • ‘There were eight pools of waste water, in which purplish-reddish liquid was churning.’
    • ‘The mantle churns as hotter material moves outward from Earth's core and colder material sinks back down, a process called thermal convection.’
    • ‘It all sounds static, but there is a great deal of emotion churning beneath the surface.’
    • ‘As the gap between the enormous hull and the quayside grew the water churned.’
    • ‘As we approach, the wide, steady river narrows and churns.’
    • ‘Karen's stomach churns every time she takes visitors to the river.’
    be turbulent, heave, boil, swirl, toss, seethe, foam, froth
    disturb, stir up, agitate
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    1. 2.1[with object]Cause (liquid) to move about vigorously.
      ‘in high winds most of the lake is churned up’
      • ‘At that point the hurricane began crossing over seas that had been churned up by Tropical Storm Cindy late last week.’
      • ‘Milk is churned about when it is being transported long distances and its quality will suffer.’
    2. 2.2[with object]Break up the surface of (an area of ground)
      ‘the earth had been churned up where vehicles had passed through’
      • ‘But the land was churned up by riders and followers of the Bedale Hunt in pursuit of a fox last Saturday.’
      • ‘The town council chairman said the grass outside the school was being churned up by tyres.’
      • ‘Eventually, we did go off-road as the tarmac gave out and the dirt track became increasingly churned up.’
      • ‘Elsewhere there are places where thoughtless mountain bike and motorbike riders have churned up paths.’
      • ‘The shelling churned the landscape into a sea of mud and craters.’
      • ‘Mr Langton said: ‘The weather is so bad at the moment that if we try to move the car, it will churn the field up and make a real mess of the pitch.’’
      • ‘About 30 boulders have been mounted on the grass verge in Wilcot Avenue to stop motorists churning up the ground.’
      • ‘Residents have complained that cars and vans have been used in races around the playing fields, churning up the grass.’
      • ‘Just a few weeks after the green was opened, youths on motorbikes churned up the grass, and, in one week alone, the council was forced to fork out more than £1,000 to repair damage.’
      • ‘He added grass verges in the area were churned up and were disgusting and wanted to know what Colchester Council was spending taxpayers' money on.’
      • ‘Road safety markings in the shape of dinosaur footprints that were painted on a dangerous crossing to help children get to and from school have been churned up by workmen weeks after they were installed.’
      • ‘By then the Allied armies had advanced about ten miles and the Somme battlefield had been churned, like that of Verdun, into a featureless lunar landscape.’
      • ‘Turbulent tides have churned up the sea bed, disturbing rocks and natural debris such as drift wood.’
      • ‘The field has been ruined, the grass has been churned up into mud, there are piles of rubbish everywhere and it's not even been bagged.’
      • ‘Between January and March games are always called off because mud has been churned up.’
      • ‘Furious park users claim that a popular beauty spot has been churned up by speeding quad bikes.’
      • ‘All that is gone now due to a few selfish bikers who rip round all over the field, taking a delight in churning every path up and making walking a very dangerous occupation.’
      • ‘She aimed her rifle at the ground, fired off a spray that churned the earth.’
      • ‘Huge earth moving machines continue to churn the ground beneath the pig farm, 18 miles east of Vancouver, in the search of more evidence.’
      • ‘The whole of the Market Place has been revamped at vast expense and if it were churned up now it would be quite appalling.’
  • 3[with object] (of a broker) encourage frequent turnover of (investments) in order to generate commission.

    • ‘There seems to be no end of brokers appearing in the press and on TV these days telling us we need to churn our portfolios more often.’
    • ‘M&B is churning its estate as it attempts to concentrate on larger sites that make more money from selling food than from beer sales.’
    • ‘The broker appears to have churned the account and Donald let him do so.’
    • ‘And because they churn their portfolios almost by the minute, their trading volumes move markets.’
    • ‘He then churned the Estate account by selling perfectly reasonable shares to pay for this ill-conceived investment.’
    • ‘Managers may churn their accounts to generate more soft dollars in order to buy services such as stock research.’
    • ‘It was the kind of fairy tale brokers tell their clients while churning their accounts.’
    • ‘One dealer said the volume was mostly churned by traders employed by brokerage houses, with most retail investors still on the sidelines.’
    • ‘This is unlike other funds which churn their portfolio in a never-ending search for hot stocks.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • churn something out

    • Produce something routinely or mechanically, especially in large quantities.

      ‘artists continued to churn out insipid works’
      • ‘There, more than six kilometres of automatic conveyors, computers and state-of-the-art machinery churn out all shapes and sizes of furniture for the leisure, domestic and office markets.’
      • ‘Today, KKGSS churns out 5,000 flags per month and in six months time, plans to make it 5,000 per day.’
      • ‘He churns courses out, repeating what has been successful on previous designs.’
      • ‘By no means, though, should you assume that he simply churns out tales like an automaton working from a template.’
      • ‘London has always drawn in the poor and hopeful, and churned out the richer and more successful, who move out because they are worried about raising children in the city.’
      • ‘Sly and the Family Stone were a veritable factory of fantastic songs, and they seemed to churn them out with no effort at all.’
      • ‘Katherine Ricketts is an incredible dancer and director, and it should make us proud that SFU Contemporary Arts churns out such damn good performers.’
      • ‘But they needed each other: the editor wanted first-rate stories and the reporter churned them out with regularity.’
      • ‘Many operators see video-on-demand and subscription VOD as a potential cash machine that will churn out profits for many years.’
      • ‘I went into work early and churned out the press releases due for that week, and then began to proofread and edit some short stories and articles.’
      produce, make, turn out
      crank out, bang out
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Old English cyrin, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Low German kerne and Old Norse kirna.