Faire (un) demi-tour

Faire demi-tour, faire un demi-tour
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French Expressions

Meaning to make a U-turn, to do an about-face
Literally to make / do (a) half turn
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Pronunciation [deu mee tour]
IPA   [də mi tuʁ]

Usage notes: The French expression faire demi-tour, meaning "to make a U-turn," can be both literal and figurative. The literal meaning can also be expressed with faire un demi-tour (note the indefinite article).*

Literal: to make a U-turn, turn around and go in the opposite direction

Tu viens de dépasser l’allée, il faut faire un demi-tour.   You just passed the driveway, you need to make a U-turn.
On ne peut pas faire un demi-tour ici.   We can’t do a U-turn here.


  • rebrousser chemin
  • revenir sur ses pas

Also, to turn something half of one rotation (180 degrees):

Fais un demi-tour de vis.   Turn the screw 180 degrees, give the screw a half turn.
Un demi-tour de clé suffira.   A half turn of the key will suffice.

Figurative: to make a U-turn, to do an about-face / about-turn

Il avait promis de ne pas parler, mais a vite fait demi-tour quand le film a commencé.   He’d promised not to talk but did a quick about-face [started talking] when the movie began.
Elle n’allait pas partir mais quand ses amies ont téléphoné, elle a fait demi-tour.   She wasn’t going to leave but when her friends called, she made a U-turn [changed her mind].

Figurative synonyms

  • faire une pirouette
  • faire un retournement
  • faire un revirement
  • faire volte-face

 * Some sources say that faire un demi-tour is literal while faire demi-tour is figurative, but there are many examples of the latter being used literally as well, not the least of which is on signs for No U-turn: Interdiction de faire demi-tour.

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