I'm surprised I couldn't find a clear and precise answer for this on the net. Some guys claim that the difference is only a matter of AmE/BrE English, while some other guy has suggested this example on a forum as to explain the difference:

a) You would have to turn round the bend and drive straight for 200 meters before you arrive at the gas station.

b) Please turn around and let me see your back. (A circular movement around a fixed point)

I wonder who is being correct? Just recently, I myself had learned about "turn round" in my English book too, and it denoted the same thing as the case "a" above (changing the direction, while driving, in order to get back to somewhere.)


2 Answers 2


There is no difference. "Turn round" is the same as "turn around".

Some American dialects will write the expression with an apostrophe ('round) to indicate it's an abbreviation of around and distinguish it from round (meaning "circular"). In British English it's simply written "turn round".

  • 1
    Try the OED. No apostrophe is required. Jul 14, 2017 at 3:54
  • After doing some research, I suspect that "turn around" is actually the modern descendant of the older phrase "turn round".
    – Andrew
    Jul 14, 2017 at 5:00
  • Round is the current preposition in BrE. OED doesn't present it as archaic or anything of the sort, and I think you won't hear around in the U.K. or Ireland, unless much has changed since I was last there. Jul 14, 2017 at 5:08
  • I mean that "turn around" is a relatively new (and possibly American) expression, since (according to one source) it didn't show up until the early 1900s, and in merry old England they never got round to using it.
    – Andrew
    Jul 14, 2017 at 5:29

I battled with these expressions some 35 years ago while writing my first book 'Giant of the Cemetery'. Today, I still feel uneasy with the said 'sameness' between 'turn round' and 'turn around.' I feel that the two expressions can evoke two different meanings if 'round' is taken to be an adjective signifying a change in shape, and 'around' as a preposition signifying a situation in which an event takes place around an object, or an object rotates on its axis. Outside of this subtlety, the two expressions make no striking difference.

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