turning point

A turning point is a specific, significant moment when something begins to change. Historians might say that Rosa Parks's famous bus protest was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

Looking back at historical events, it's fairly easy to mark various turning points. An individual might notice a turning point as well, like the day you met your best friend or the summer you spent volunteering in India. This figurative meaning of turning point was coined in the 1640s, while a less popular, more literal meaning came along about forty years later: "point at which motion in one direction ceases and that in another or contrary direction begins."

Definitions of turning point

n an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend

landmark, watershed
Fall of Man
(Judeo-Christian mythology) when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, God punished them by driving them out of the Garden of Eden and into the world where they would be subject to sickness and pain and eventual death
road to Damascus
a sudden turning point in a person's life (similar to the sudden conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus of arrest Christians)
Type of:
juncture, occasion
an event that occurs at a critical time

n the intersection of two streets

corner, street corner
blind corner
a street corner that you cannot see around as you are driving
Type of:
carrefour, crossing, crossroad, crossway, intersection
a junction where one street or road crosses another

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