Sense of "act of good will" is recorded from c. 1300. Meaning "spell of work" is from late 14c.; that of "an individual's time for action, when these go around in succession" is recorded from late 14c. The automatic automobile turn-signal is from 1915. Turn-sick "dizzy," is attested from early 15c. Phrase done to a turn (1780) suggests meat roasted on a spit. The turn of the screw (1796) is the additional twist to tighten its hold, sometimes with reference to torture by thumbscrews.
"to put into a phrase, express by a particular phrase," 1560s; see phrase (n.). Related: Phrased; phrasing.
1520s, "manner or style of expression," also "brief expression with some unity; two or more words expressing what is practically a single notion," from Late Latin phrasis "diction," from Greek phrasis "speech, way of speaking, enunciation, phraseology," from phrazein "to tell, declare, indicate, point out, show, inform," also passively (phrazomai), "indicate to oneself, think or muse upon, consider; think up, contrive; suppose, believe, imagine; perceive, observe."
The Greek verb is of uncertain origin; perhaps it is connected with phrenes "wits, senses, sanity," phrēn "the mind, the heart," literally "midriff, diaphragm" (see phreno-). The musical sense of "a short and somewhat independent passage from a piece" is from 1789. Phrase-book "collection of expressions peculiar to a language" is by 1590s.
Use in expression to turn (something) into (something else) probably retains the classical sense of "to shape on a lathe." To turn up "arrive, make an appearance" is recorded from 1755. Turn about "by turns, alternately" is recorded from 1640s. To turn (something) loose "set free" is recorded from 1590s. Turn down (v.) "reject" first recorded 1891, American English. Turn in "go to bed" is attested from 1690s, originally nautical. To turn the stomach "nauseate" is recorded from 1620s. To turn up one's nose as an expression of contempt is attested from 1779.
Turning point is attested by 1640s in a figurative sense "point at which a decisive change takes place;" literal sense "point on which a thing turns; point at which motion in one direction ceases and that in another or contrary direction begins" is from 1660s.