I've found the following definitions and I'm wondering how they're used with pancakes and other objects.


: to cause (something) to turn or turn over quickly
[+ object]
She was sitting in the waiting room, flipping the pages of a magazine.
He flipped his car (over) on the interstate.
They flipped the turtle (over) onto its back.
flip a pancake
(informal) He got a job flipping burgers. [=working as a cook in a fast-food restaurant]
[-] hide examples
[no object]
His car flipped over on the interstate.
She was sitting in the waiting room, flipping [=leafing] through magazines.

turn over [phrasal verb]

a : to move and face the opposite direction
She turned over (in bed) to see what time it was.
The kayak turned over in the rapids.
b turn over (someone or something) or turn (someone or something) over : to cause (someone or something) to face the opposite direction
If you turn the paper over, you will find more math problems.
He turned over the baby onto her back.
— sometimes used figuratively
(Brit) The boat ride turned over my stomach.

turn something <-> over

​  to make something change position so that the other side is facing towards the outside or the top
Brown the meat on one side, then turn it over and brown the other side.


​[transitive] toss a pancake (British English) to throw a pancake upwards so that it turns over in the air and you can fry the other side

upside down: adverb

​in or into a position in which the top of something is where the bottom is normally found and the bottom is where the top is normally found
The canoe floated upside down on the lake.

Watch this video at 0:53,

Should I say, "The man flipped the pancake." or "The man turned the pancake over"?

Are these the same?

flip the pancake
turn the pancake over
turn the pancake upside down
toss the pancake

If they are, then which one is more common?

And can we apply them to other objects. For example, "flip the iphone" or "turn the iphone upside down" or "turn the iphone over" or "toss the iphone"?

  • A pancake is not an object. It is a type of food, usually, for breakfast. Toss a pancake is not just British. Anything in a frying pan can be tossed. It is a mistake to think that food and objects necessarily can be used in the same way. Verbs for cooking and verbs for throwing objects occur in different collocations. There are several you are missing: He turned the documents over to the police, for example.
    – Lambie
    Jan 31, 2023 at 16:38
  • 1
    What the Brits call a "pancake" and what Americans call a "pancake" is only vaguely similar. British pancakes are about as close to American pancakes as spaghetti is to udon noodles.
    – James K
    Feb 1, 2023 at 0:34

2 Answers 2


All of those phrases have roughly the same potential meaning when referring to pancakes. However, in the U.S. at least, we really only use two phrases in this context.

flip a pancake
turn a pancake

'Turn the pancake over' is also used, but the word 'over' is redundant and is quite often left out. There is no ambiguity without it so it's not necessary.

With other objects and situations, other phrases might be used. For an iPhone, 'turn the phone over', 'turn the phone upside down' or 'flip the phone' would mean the same thing as flipping a pancake if the phone were in your lying in your hand or on a table. 'Flip the phone' would seldom be used. However, if you were looking at it and using it, 'turn the phone upside down' or 'flip the phone' would probably mean to rotate it 180 degrees while keeping the screen facing toward you.

The verb 'toss' means 'to throw'. 'Toss a pancake' is apparently used in British English, although I can't remember every hearing it in American English. It has a different meaning from 'flip a pancake'. To 'toss' a pancake means to turn it by throwing it up in the air with the pan and using the pan to catch it again, rather than using a utensil to turn it over.

Tossing a phone would mean gently throwing it through the air.

Toss your phone to me so I can call my mother.

It might also be used as a substitute for 'throw' in the compound verb 'to throw something out'. In this case it would mean mean putting it in the trash.

Toss the phone out, it's broken.

This phrase can be shortened without any change in meaning.

Toss the phone, it's broken.

These verbs are often used quite idiomatically. You have to learn how they're used in each separate case, unfortunately.

  • 2
    In Britain we 'toss a pancake' by holding the pan in mid-air and flicking the wrist so that the pancake flies upwards, turns in the air and lands back in the pan the other way up. If unsure of your skill, you use a spatula! Jan 31, 2023 at 16:24

"Flip the pancake" is far and away the most common.

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