I'm sure we all know what a "u-turn" is. However, people seem to go from the top of the U. Wouldn't an "n-turn" make more sense, because driving logistics force you to go in more the shape of a lowercase "n", from your perspective.

  • 3
    It's in the shape of a "U" from your perspective AFTER you finish the turn. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 19:41
  • @ChrisSunami that could be an answer.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 19:43
  • Language is as it is, not as you or anybody else think it should be.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 23:09
  • Presumably the same reason a T junction doesn't look like t
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 12 at 22:15
  • In noncursive handwriting, I render the letter 'u' as a simple curve, but I render the lowercase letter 'n' as vertical line downward, then retraced upward, followed by a curve similar to a partial 'u' curve in reverse. My handwritten 'n' path is thus quite unlike the path that a vehicle follows in making a U-turn, whereas my handwritten 'u' path follows a trajectory very similar to it. Admittedly, a mathematical 'intersection' symbol (∩) would be even more apt as a reference symbol (especially for U-turns at intersections)—but "intersection symbol turn" doesn't exactly glide off the tongue.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jan 12 at 23:06

2 Answers 2


The shape of an "N" is ambiguous (upper or lower) but the shape of a "U" is not.


Most critical traffic instruction signs are written in capital letters, such as

  • STOP
  • MERGE RIGHT etc.

This is so that it can be clearly seen from a distance.

As mentioned by Chris Sunami upper case "u" is still "U" making it unambiguous, whereas n becomes N which is ambiguous, irrespective of the sign looking like a "n" however in written form it is U.

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