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Posted by R. Berg on August 14, 2004

In Reply to: Superfluous posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 14, 2004

: : : Good evening,

: : : Can anyone help me out with the sentence below? The trouble for me seems to be the verbal idiom TURN SOMEONE OFF TO. Is it well employed? What is the real meaning? Was she attracted to or did she lose interest in biological science?

: : : "She recalls that her first research experience turned her off to biological science - that, and dissection."

: : : Thanks.

: : : Jose Carlos

: : She lost interest.

: : turn off -- to disgust or otherwise repel.

: : turn-off -- noun. Something that disgusts or repels.

: : The opposite would be "turn on." That phrase started out as a reference to sex or drugs. But it now has a wider meaning -- stimulate interest.

: : turn on -- 1. To use drugs. 2. To introduce another to something. 3. To alter awareness with or without drugs. 4. To become intently aware. 5. To provoke a sexual reaction.

: : From the "Hippie Counterculture" chapter of "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996)

: : Grammar makes my head hurt. I am going to page a grammarian.

: :
: : : Thanks ESC,

: : : I couldnot see the value of the preposition TO. I would have excluded it: ... her first experience turned her off biological science...

: : : JC

: I agree. The 'to' seems superfluous, even incorrect.

The "to" is part of the idiom. In the 1960s, in the U.S., "John turned Mary on to acid" was hippie slang for "John introduced Mary to LSD by giving Mary her first dose of it and probably also accompanying her while she was under its influence." The phrase later generalized to anything that one person might recommend to another - a restaurant, a musical group, a local park to walk in. I suppose a person could turn someone on to stamp collecting, although the phrase was usually applied to more active pleasures.