Turn the Corner: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
February 5, 2024

The phrase "turn the corner" is commonly used to denote a significant positive change or improvement, especially after a period of difficulty or struggle. This idiom is often applied in various contexts, ranging from personal development to business and economics.

In short:

  • It symbolizes a significant change or improvement.
  • It is often used to describe recovery or progress after a challenging period.

What Does "Turn the Corner" Mean?

The phrase "turn the corner" metaphorically implies passing a critical point in a situation or process, leading to a noticeable improvement. It's frequently used to describe situations where there has been a struggle or a period of negative outcomes, and now things are starting to get better. For instance, when a business that has been losing money starts to become profitable, it is said to have "turned the corner."

More about the phrase's meaning:

  • It suggests moving beyond a difficult or critical phase.
  • The phrase can be used in various situations, such as health recovery, business improvement, or personal development.
  • It conveys a sense of hope and positive progression.
  • "Turning the corner" often marks the beginning of a phase of growth or recovery.

Where Does "Turn the Corner" Come From?

The phrase "turn the corner" originates from the late 14th century, with the meaning "to pass a corner," as in a race, from the noun "corner." The phrase "to turn the corner" in the sense of "change direction," either literally or figuratively, has been in use since the 1680s. It is often used to indicate a significant change in circumstances or a noticeable improvement, especially following a difficult or challenging period.

10 Examples of "Turn the Corner" in Sentences

To illustrate how this phrase can be used, here are some examples:

  • After several years of economic recession, the country has finally turned the corner.
  • He turned the corner with a steady hand and accelerated.
  • The small startup turned the corner when it received significant funding.
  • He felt like he had turned the corner in his therapy sessions.
  • She kept an eye on the street as she turned the corner.
  • With the successful launch of their latest product, the company turned the corner.
  • After struggling with her course, she finally turned the corner and started getting better grades.
  • The new policy helped the city turn the corner in its fight against pollution.
  • Once he adopted a new strategy, his business turned the corner and became profitable.
  • Always a smart cookie, she knew when to turn the corner in negotiations.

Examples of "Turn the Corner" in Pop Culture

This phrase is also present in pop culture and often indicates a shift toward improvement or success.

Examples in pop culture:

  • In the book "Selected Poems," Langston Hughes wrote: "When you turn the corner and you run into yourself, then you know that you have turned all the corners that are left." The book is a collection of poems that explores various themes of life.
  • The song "Turn the Corner" by Neil Pollard and Louise Dowd contains the lyrics: "I surrender, turn the corner. I surrender, turn the corner." The song is about resilience and hope.
  • The TV show "Top Shot" has an episode titled "Turn the Corner." The episode is part of the third season of the show.
  • The music album "Turn the Corner" by Janelle Lauer is a collection of jazz songs.
  • The news article "Consumers Turn the Corner on the Economy as Sentiment Spikes" discusses the improvement in consumer sentiment and its impact on the economy.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Turn the Corner"

Similar phrases include:

  • Overcome the hurdle
  • Get over the hump
  • Pass the tipping point
  • Make a breakthrough
  • Reach a turning point
  • Get past the worst

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Turn the Corner":

  • What does "turn the corner" mean in a medical context?

In medicine, "turn the corner" often refers to a patient showing significant improvement after a period of critical or unstable condition.

  • Can "turn the corner" be used in a negative sense?

Typically, "turn the corner" is used to describe positive changes. Using it in a negative sense would be unconventional.

  • Is this phrase commonly used in business?

Yes, in business, "turn the corner" is frequently used to describe a company's recovery from poor performance or financial difficulty.

  • How can I use "turn the corner" in a sentence about personal development?

"After months of practicing, I've finally turned the corner and improved my guitar skills significantly."

  • Is "turn the corner" a formal or informal phrase?

The phrase can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Can this phrase be applied to situations of emotional recovery?

Yes, "turn the corner" can be used to describe emotional or psychological recovery.

  • Does "turn the corner" always imply a sudden change?

Not necessarily sudden, but it does imply a clear and noticeable change in the situation.

  • Can this phrase be used metaphorically?

Yes, it's often used metaphorically to describe a change in circumstances or progress.

  • Is "turn the corner" used in sports commentary?

Yes, in sports, commentators often use this phrase to describe a team or player's improvement or change in performance.

  • What is a synonym for "turn the corner" in a relationship context?

"Overcome a rough patch" is a similar phrase used in the context of relationships.

Final Thoughts About "Turn the Corner"

The phrase "turn the corner" is a versatile expression to signify a significant improvement or positive change, especially after a challenging period. Its usage spans various contexts, from personal growth and health recovery to business and economics. The metaphorical use of turning a physical corner to represent a change in direction or circumstance makes it a vivid and relatable idiom.

To recap:

  • It's a metaphor for significant positive change or improvement.
  • The phrase can be applied in diverse contexts, including personal, professional, and public scenarios.
  • It's suitable for formal and informal communication.
  • "Turn the corner" emphasizes progression and hope, especially after difficulties.

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