English form of a common biblical name (meaning ‘who is like God?’ in Hebrew) borne by one of the archangels, the protector of the ancient Hebrews, who is also regarded as a saint of the Catholic Church. In the Middle Ages, Michael was regarded as captain of the heavenly host (see Revelation 12:7–9), symbol of the Church Militant, and patron of soldiers. He was often depicted bearing a flaming sword. The name is also borne by a Persian prince and ally of Belshazzar mentioned in the Book of Daniel. Since the early 1900s it has been one of the most enduringly popular boys' names in the English-speaking world. See also Michal.
English and Scottish: occupational name for a maker of objects of wood, metal, or bone by turning on a lathe, from Anglo-Norman French torner (Old French tornier, Latin tornarius, a derivative of tornus ‘lathe’). The surname may also derive from any of various other senses of Middle English turn, for example a turnspit, a translator or interpreter, or a tumbler.