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heel turn


This page has 6 definitions of heel turn in English. Heel turn is a noun. Also define these 41 related words and terms: dance, ballroom dancing, move, dancer, step, backwards, shift, weight, back, foot, turn, heel, hold, close, parallel, skating, snowboarding, execute, act, turn around, abruptly, face, opposite, direction, radical, change, mind, opinion, 180, about-face, about turn, turnabout, volte-face, professional wrestling, heel/face turn, situation, wrestler, identify, villain, consider, and hero.



From heel (rear part of the foot, where it joins the leg) +‎ turn; sense 2 (“act of turning around abruptly”) is derived from turn heel or turn on one’s heel.[1]

Sense 4 (“situation in which a wrestler previously identified as a villain changes to being considered a hero”) is a pun on the word heel, which also means “a headlining wrestler whose ring persona embodies villainous or reprehensible traits”.[1]



heel turn (plural heel turns)

  1. (dance) A ballroom dancing move in which the dancer steps backwards, shifts their weight on to the back foot, and turns on the heel of that foot while holding the other foot close and parallel to it.
    • 1951, Dancing Times, London: Dancing Times, ISSN 0011-605X, OCLC 606134779, page 235, column 2:
      The lady's step would then need to be drastically foreshortened, and would degenerate into a heel turn—not infrequent with beginners.
    • 1996, Nicole Davidson, Dying to Dance (Avon Flare YA Horror), New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, →ISBN, page 69:
      A second later, all I could think of was following Dad through the complex pattern of heel turns, weaves, spins and sweeping movements across the floor.
    • 2006, Paul Bottomer, “Slow Foxtrot”, in Dance Class: How to Waltz, Quick Step, Foxtrot, Tango, Samba, Salsa, Merengue, Lambada and Line Dance – Step-by-Step!, London: Southwater, Anness Publishing, →ISBN, page 234, column 1:
      In some moves, such as a heel turn [], the person dancing the heel turn cannot take a long second step, but the other person will.
    • Ballroom Dancing definition
      formal social dancing in couples, popular as a recreation and also as a competitive activity. The ballroom dance repertoire includes dances developed from old European folk dances such as the waltz and minuet, Latin American dances such as the tango, rumba, and cha-cha, and dances of 20th-century origin such as the foxtrot and quickstep.
    • Step definition
      An advance or movement made from one foot to the other; a pace. (1 of 18 step definitions)
    • Backwards definition
      Synonym of backward; see usage notes there.
    • Weight definition
      The force on an object due to the gravitational attraction between it and the Earth (or whatever astronomical object it is primarily influenced by). (1 of 20 weight definitions)
    • Turn definition
      To make a non-linear physical movement.
      1. Of a body, person, etc, to move around an axis through itself. (1 of 34 turn definitions)
    • Close definition
      To remove a gap.
      1. To obstruct (an opening).
      2. To move so that an opening is closed. (1 of 13 close definitions)
  2. (chiefly skating, snowboarding) A turn executed by shifting weight on to the heel(s).
    • 1880, George Anderson, “Instructions in Skating. Movements Performed on Both Feet.”, in The Art of Skating; [], 4th edition, London: Horace Cox, [], OCLC 12060002, page 38:
      Undoubtedly my old diagram was wrong in omitting to show cusps for the heel turns: []
    • 1894, Douglas Adams, “The Simple Turns”, in Skating. [] (The All-England Series), London; New York, N.Y.: George Bell & Sons, [], OCLC 750521763, page 26:
      Turn D, from outside backwards to inside forwards. This is also a heel turn, but is not so difficult as turn B; a considerable amount of practice, however, will be required before the skater will be able to do it with ease.
    • 1897 March, Caroline Creyke, “Skating on Artificial Ice”, in James Knowles, editor, The Nineteenth Century: A Monthly Review, volume XLI, number CCXLI, New York, N.Y.: Leonard Scott Publication Co., []; London: Sampson Law, Marston & Company, OCLC 914235738, pages 479–480:
      The former of the heel turns, called turn D, can be learnt without a fall if taken at a very slow pace; [] if begun slowly and in the correct manner, it is not a figure which need cause a fall. This, unfortunately, cannot be said of the other heel turn, called the B turn, the pierre d'achoppement [stumbling block] of all skaters.
    • 1985, Ken Doherty, Track and Field Omnibook, 4th edition, Los Altos, Calif.: Tafnews Press, →ISBN, page 280:
      When you get a hammer in your hands and learn to turn faster, you will learn about the necessity of "sitting back" against the hammer pull at the low point so that your body weight will shift back to allow you to make the heel turn.
    • 1991, Peter Shelton, “New Tools”, in The Snow Skier’s Bible, New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, →ISBN, page 209:
      Heel turns are nearly a mirror image of toe turns: release the edge; pivot the back foot around the front; weight the heel edge and drive. [] First, keep your knees bent and driving forward with the turn. Many beginners push the board away from their bodies in a heel turn, straightening their legs in the process. Instinct tells them that that's the way to get the board on edge. Instead, drop your hips to the inside of the turn and drive with bent knees.
    • 2002, Cindy Kleh, “Getting from Here to There (or Skating)”, in Snowboarding Skills: The Back-to-basics Essentials for All Levels (A Quintet Book), Enderby, Leicester: Silverdale Books, Bookmart, →ISBN, page 38, column 1:
      Most new riders find heel-turns easier to learn than toe-turns. It's purely psychological. The mind likes facing downhill in the direction of travel better than it likes facing uphill while the body is traveling downhill. Eventually both turns will feel equally good. (No, make that GREAT.)
    • 2003, Don Babbitt, “Hammer”, in Jay Silvester, editor, Complete Book of Throws, Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics, →ISBN, page 137:
      As you enter the first turn, the plane of the hammer's orbit should be much flatter than that of the orbit during the winds. The orbital plane is also usually flatter when making a toe turn than when making a heel turn.
  3. (by extension) An act of turning around abruptly, especially so that one faces the opposite direction.
    • [1840 March, Robert Browning, Sordello, London: Edward Moxon, [], OCLC 1000880475, book the fifth, page 212:
      And on he strode into the opposite dark / Till presently the harsh heel's turn, a spark / I' the stone, []]
    • 1908, Winefride Trafford-Taunton, chapter XII, in The Threshold, London: John Long [], OCLC 37304288, 1st part (The Clay Creatures), page 93:
      "This gentleman may help you," he repeated, with his wooden hand wave and his usual rotund heel turn, which transported him indoors.
    • 1966 August, Joyce Rockwood Muench, “The Navajo Alps”, in Arizona Highways[1], volume 42, number 8, Phoenix, Ariz.: Arizona Highway Department, ISSN 0004-1521, OCLC 913854162, page 14, column 2:
      A heel-turn to the northwest in Utah, the Abajos stand up to be counted; farther west the Henry Mountain; and on the border of Arizona, the dark lump of Navajo Mountain, the ten-thousand-foot-high home of the Navajo Wargod.
    • 1980, Owen G. Irons, Wind Stalker, New York, N.Y.: Dell, →ISBN, page 184:
      Then he did a heel turn and strode out of the courtroom.
    • 2000, Wendy Etherington, Wedding Bell Blues (Precious Gem Romance; no. 266), New York, N.Y.: Zebra Books, →ISBN, page 155:
      The security men nodded solemnly, executed a quick heel turn, then hurried off.
    1. (figuratively) A radical change (of mind, opinion, etc.).
      Synonyms: 180, about-face, about turn, turnabout, volte-face
    • Turn Around definition
      Alternative spelling of turnaround
    • Abruptly definition
      In an abrupt manner; without giving notice, or without the usual forms; suddenly; precipitously.
    • Face definition
      The front part of the head of a human or other animal, featuring the eyes, nose and mouth, and the surrounding area. (1 of 26 face definitions)
    • Direction definition
      A theoretical line (physically or mentally) followed from a point of origin or towards a destination. May be relative (e.g. up, left, outbound, dorsal), geographical (e.g. north), rotational (e.g. clockwise), or with respect to an object or location (e.g. toward Boston). (1 of 6 direction definitions)
  4. (professional wrestling) Synonym of heel/face turn (a situation in which a wrestler previously identified as a villain changes to being considered a hero)
    • 2002, John F. Molinaro, Jeff Marek and Dave Meltzer, editors, Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time, Toronto, Ont.: Winding Stair Press, →ISBN, page 78, column 1:
      As a result of the heel turn, [Riki] Choshu was instantly elevated as a headliner and feuded with [Tatsumi] Fujinami in main events for two years over the WWF [World Wrestling Federation] International Heavyweight strap.
    • 2004, Dave Meltzer, editor, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Campbell, Calif.: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, page 1, column 2:
      The early 1999 destruction of [Ric] Flair in storyline fashion, even as Flair and Hulk Hogan were drawing the last of the company's great buy rates (although Flair's heel turn after drawing the last big buy rate for a SuperBrawl in San Francisco was Flair's own doing) was not a bunch of angles that were bad ideas, such as the period he was confined to a nut house (and somehow even made that drivel entertaining).
    1. (by extension) A situation in which someone changes from being a villain into a hero.
      • 2019 May 5, Danette Chavez, “Campaigns are Waged On and Off the Game Of Thrones Battlefield (Newbies)”, in The A.V. Club[2], archived from the original on 28 January 2021:
        More than any other episode to date, “The Last Of The Starks” heralds Daenerysheel turn. She’s been poised for it for some time, though the timing varies depending on the character perspective—Varys has always been ready to fly to another camp if he felt something was amiss or he just found a more viable candidate, while Tyrion [Lannister] and Jon [Snow] still want to serve her.
    • Wrestler definition
      A person who wrestles.



  1. 1.0 1.1 heel turn, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2019; “heel turn, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading