[16] A turncoat is someone who abandons or betrays a group or cause and joins its opponents. The story goes – probably apocryphally – that there was once a Duke of Saxony whose territories abutted those of France. Clearly anxious always to make the right impression, he had a coat made which was blue on one side and white on the other. When he wished to be seen to be supporting the French interest he wore it with the white side outwards, and when he did not, he wore it with the blue side outwards. Documentation of this tale is lacking, and probably the expression had a much less specific origin (the phrase turn one’s coat for ‘betray one’s loyalties’ is contemporaneous).

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

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  • Turncoat — Turn coat , n. One who forsakes his party or his principles; a renegade; an apostate; a defector to the enemy. [1913 Webster] He is a turncoat, he was not true to his profession. Bunyan. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • turncoat — (n.) 1550s, from TURN (Cf. turn) + COAT (Cf. coat). Originally one who tried to hide the badge of his party or leader. The expression to turn one s coat change principles or party is recorded from 1560s …   Etymology dictionary

  • turncoat — *renegade, apostate, recreant, backslider Analogous words: deserter, forsaker, abandoner (see corresponding verbs at ABANDON) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • turncoat — [n] traitor apostate, back stabber*, Benedict Arnold*, betrayer, conspirator, deceiver, defector, deserter, double crosser*, fink*, informer, Judas*, quisling, rat*, rebel, renegade, snake*, sneak*, snitch*, spy, squealer*, stool pigeon*,… …   New thesaurus

  • turncoat — ► NOUN ▪ a person who deserts one party or cause in order to join an opposing one …   English terms dictionary

  • turncoat — [tʉrn′kōt΄] n. [from the notion of a coat worn right side out or inside out, according to circumstances] a person who goes over to the opposite side or party; traitor …   English World dictionary

  • turncoat — [[t]tɜ͟ː(r)nkoʊt[/t]] turncoats N COUNT (disapproval) If you describe someone as a turncoat, you think they are disloyal or deceitful, because they have left their party or organization and joined an opposing one. His one time admirers now accuse …   English dictionary

  • turncoat — UK [ˈtɜː(r)nˌkəʊt] / US [ˈtɜrnˌkoʊt] noun [countable] Word forms turncoat : singular turncoat plural turncoats someone who stops supporting a particular group and joins an opposing group …   English dictionary

  • turncoat — turn|coat [ˈtə:nkəut US ˈtə:rnkout] n someone who stops supporting a political party or group and joins the opposing side ▪ Casson was publicly criticized as a turncoat and a traitor …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • turncoat — turn|coat [ tɜrn,kout ] noun count someone who stops supporting a particular group and joins an opposing group: TRAITOR: Johnson was just a political turncoat who wanted only to help his own career …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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