What Does Turf Mean? Exploring the Different Uses of the Word

The word “turf” has many meanings and uses in the English language. Depending on the context, it can refer to a natural or artificial surface, a territory or domain, a sport or activity, or a type of fuel. In this blog post, we will explore the different meanings of the word “turf” and some examples of how it is used in sentences.

Turf as a Surface

One of the most common meanings of the word “turf” is a surface layer of land consisting of grass and the earth in which its roots grow. This is also called sod or lawn. A piece of this layer that is cut from the ground and is usually rectangular is also called a turf. For example:

  • They walked across the springy turf.
  • He laid down some turfs to make a garden.

Another meaning of the word “turf” is an artificial substitute for this natural surface, such as on a playing field. This is also called artificial turf or synthetic turf. It is made of synthetic fibers that resemble grass and are attached to a backing material. It is often used for sports that require a durable and low-maintenance surface, such as football, soccer, baseball, and hockey. For example:

  • The players complained about the injuries caused by the artificial turf.
  • The stadium has installed a new synthetic turf that looks more realistic.

Turf as a Territory

Another meaning of the word “turf” is a territory that one considers to be under one’s control or influence. This can be used to describe a physical area, such as a neighborhood, a city, or a country, or a sphere of activity, such as a profession, a market, or a field of study. It can also imply a sense of ownership, pride, or rivalry. For example:

  • The gang members defended their turf from the invaders.
  • Antiques are very much her turf. She knows everything about them.
  • The two companies are competing for the same turf in the online retail industry.
  • He did not like poachers on his turf. He wanted to be the only journalist covering the story.

A related phrase is “home turf”, which means one’s own territory or familiar area. It can suggest an advantage or comfort in being in one’s own place. For example:

  • The team played better on their home turf than on the road.
  • She felt more confident speaking on her home turf than in a foreign country.

Turf as a Sport

Another meaning of the word “turf” is horse racing or racecourses generally. This can be used to refer to the sport or business of horse racing, or the people involved in it. It can also be used as an adjective to describe something related to horse racing. For example:

  • He spent his money gambling on the turf.
  • She works as a turf journalist for a sports magazine.
  • The horse is a turf specialist. He performs better on grass than on dirt.

A related phrase is “the sport of kings”, which is an informal and humorous way of referring to horse racing. It implies that horse racing is an expensive and prestigious sport that only wealthy and powerful people can afford to participate in. For example:

  • He likes to watch the sport of kings on TV.
  • She inherited her father’s passion for the sport of kings.

Turf as a Fuel

Another meaning of the word “turf” is peat used for fuel. Peat is a brown substance consisting of partly decayed plants that forms in wet areas over thousands of years. It can be cut into pieces and dried to be used as fuel for heating or cooking. This is common in some regions where other sources of fuel are scarce or expensive, such as Ireland and Scotland. For example:

  • The smell of turf burning on a winter night reminded him of his childhood.
  • She stacked some turfs in the shed for later use.

A related word is “turfy”, which means resembling or containing turf. It can be used to describe something that has the qualities or characteristics of turf, such as its color, texture, smell, or origin. For example:

  • The soil was dark and turfy.
  • He liked the turfy flavor of the whiskey.


The word “turf” has many meanings and uses in the English language. It can refer to a natural or artificial surface, a territory or domain, a sport or activity, or a type of fuel. By understanding these different meanings and uses, we can enrich our vocabulary and communicate more effectively.

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