Posted by Bruce Kahl on January 30, 2003
In Reply to: Turn of wood posted by Ann on January 30, 2003
: Remember this
from childhood in rural USA south
: "bring in a turn of wood"
: Does anyone know origin? Or how extensive was usage?
From the Word Wizard:
"A TURN is a measure of one load of certain quantities such as commodities (e.g. a pile of fish, animal skins, a sack of corn, a pile of logs). It derives its name from the dialectical use of TURN as 'a single trip and return'(as by a team in hauling logs). So it became a measure of how much material was in a batch (or one load) of some stuff that could be hauled in one 'turn' or trip.
Some examples of 'turns' would be a specific sized load of fish [late 17th century], a load of wood ( especially a number of logs hauled by a team or that which could be carried by a single person on one trip [chiefly North America. Late 18th century], a bundle of 60 skins in the fur trade, a quantity of corn (as a sackful) taken to a mill at one time for grinding.
Exactly how much was in a particular 'turn' of something was not an exact quantity and varied from area to area and even person to person. For your parents 'a turn of wood' may have meant how much you could carry in one trip, or it could have been some other standardized number of logs adopted by the people in the specific area in which you lived."