1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Turf

TURF, the top or surface of earth when covered with grass, forming a coherent mass of mould or soil in which the roots of grasses and other plants are embedded. This is capable of being cut out in solid mat-like blocks, known by the same name. Similarly “peat” (q.v.) when cut in pieces for fuel or other purposes is also styled “ turf ” The term is applied widely to any stretch or sward of trimmed grass-land, and thus by metonymy, to horse-racing and all connected with it, from the owning and running of race-horses to betting. The word “turf” is common to Teutonic languages, cf. Du. turf, Ger. Torf, Dan. törv, &c. It has been connected with Skt. darbha, grass, so called from being matted or twisted together, darbh, to wind. The Teutonic word was adapted in Med. Lat., as turba (cf. Fr. tourbe, Ital. torba), whence was formed turbaria, turbary, the right of digging and cutting turf in common with the owner of the land. (See Commons.)