There's this expression in Spanish, "hacer una pirula", used to describe a U-turn in a zone not designed to do so. While reading a thread on WordReference to determine the English equivalent, I found the following post:

in the US I once heard someone say "to do a magical turn", which in my opinion is what best suits "hacer una pirula" in a driving context.

The poster wasn't a native speaker, as per their profile. I haven't been able to find any evidence of the expression "doing a magical turn", so I'm skeptical.

Is "to do a magical turn" used in any region of the United States to describe a prohibited U-turn?

  • I've never heard "magical turn" in the US. It might be a regionalism, though.
    – stangdon
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:35
  • I have never heard "magical turn" in Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin or Massachusetts. The only terms I have heard are "U-Turn" and "U-ee" (Yewie? I never have seen it written, but it is commonly spoken.) The latter is used with flip, pull or hang. ("I had to hang a yewie to get away.")
    – Adam
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:56
  • BTW - When I read that original post, it doesn't look like the writer was saying that he had heard "do a magical turn" used for "flip an illegal yewie" It sounds to me like he had heard it used for something else, and thought it would work for pirula also ("....in a driving context.")
    – Adam
    Jun 10, 2016 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


In AmE, performing a U-turn where it is not permitted

enter image description here

is simply called an

illegal U-turn

there is nothing "magical" about it, unless the police "magically" appear and hand you a driving violation.


  • One could describe the turn as "magical", but it's still just an illegal u-turn. I've actually seen a magical u-turn in real life. A car in the far-right lane on a highway turned left, cut across the other two lanes, went down the grassy median, came up the other side, cut across three lanes of traffic on the far side, and came to a rest safely on the shoulder. If that wasn't magical, I don't know what is.
    – phyrfox
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:25
  • That just sounds like the driver lost control of their car. Now, if you had said "he then exited on the far side since he missed his exit", implying continuous driving, that would have been "magical" :)
    – Peter
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:28
  • Funny! So, no slang expressions for it?
    – Yay
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:34
  • 1
    Slang would be "hang a U-ee (you-eee)" meaning make a u-turn
    – Peter
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:35
  • 1
    @Yay: Urban Dictionary offers "flip a bitch" which I can attest having heard. Some definitions listed there argue it implies an illegal or reckless turn. Note that this usage may be considered vulgar or offensive. Jun 10, 2016 at 21:40

I have never heard "magical turn" on the East Coast or in California. Sometimes people use the word "magic" to describe something quick or sneaky. For example, "magic fingers." But "magical" can imply something "wondrous." There are times in Los Angeles when I have marveled at people's driving behavior, and you could call their driving "magical." It's a sarcastic way of saying someone has done something the opposite of wondrous. So the writer might have been implying that the turn was quick/sneaky, or maybe s/he was trying to say it was the opposite of wondrous. But I don't think "magic turn" or "magical turn" is a commonly-used phrase.

  • I had the same thought, and I think this may well be the right answer. I've never heard "magical turn" in the context of an illegal U-turn, either, but, when you gotta turn around, you gotta turn around, so I can easily envision a family adopting such language in a joking way (driving Dad to kids: "I didn't make a U-turn; I made a magical turn." A similar humorous phrase to this is, "I'm not stealing this, I'm borrowing it.") English lets us do this; some of the phrases catch on, but this one hasn't – yet.
    – J.R.
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:27
  • Ha, well I'm going to be using "magic turn" from now on!
    – Ringo
    Jun 10, 2016 at 23:45

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