an MP turned diplomat [somebody turned something: article]


To turn or be turned into something means to become that thing. MP turned diplomat.
Collins Cobuild

Is this one noun phrase with 'turned' being a past participle and the article referring to the whole phrase?
Or 'turned' is a verb? (I don't think so)
And did an MP turn into a diplomat or vice-versa?

Thank you.
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I would say it's an idiom - turned is obviously derived from a verb but what part of speech it is, I am not sure. It is best understood as an ellipsis: "an MP who turned into a diplomat" so you understand which way round the transformation happened!


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It's whatever the past participle is in 'a house painted green', I would say. Arguably an adjective, arguably just a special use of the past participle as a verb. The meaning is that the MP turned into a diplomat. In normal use, outside this idiomatic use, 'turn' requires 'into a' or something similar, and isn't used directly with a complement like this. There is an archaic idiom 'turn Turk' (= convert to Islam), but it's unlikely we'd use similar things in ordinary speech - :thumbsdown: she turned Buddhist / atheist / mathematician / hero.

    A particular idiomatic use of it is 'poacher turned gamekeeper': someone who used to break the law is now recruited to keep the same law. This is often used when there's no real idea of law; it may be just someone who worked for one company is now working for a legal authority they had to deal with in their own job.

    It doesn't seem to work with 'the': :thumbsdown: the (ex-)president turned peacemaker. So that makes me think the article refers to the whole phrase, a poacher-turned-gamekeeper.
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