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noun tur·key \ˈtər-kē\

Simple Definition of turkey

  • : a large American bird that is related to the chicken and that is hunted or raised by people for its meat

  • : the meat of the turkey used as food

  • : something (such as a play or movie) that has failed

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of turkey

plural turkeys

  1. 1 plural also turkey :  a large North American gallinaceous bird (Meleagris gallopavo) that is domesticated in most parts of the world

  2. 2 :  failure, flop; especially :  a theatrical production that has failed

  3. 3 :  three successive strikes in bowling

  4. 4 :  a stupid, foolish, or inept person

Examples of turkey in a sentence

  1. He was acting like a complete turkey.

  2. <only a turkey would think it's a good idea to go for a jog when the weather drops below zero>

Illustration of turkey

Origin of turkey

Turkey, country in western Asia and southeastern Europe; from confusion with the guinea fowl, supposed to be imported from Turkish territory

First Known Use: 1555

Other General Sports Terms

Rhymes with turkey


geographical name Tur·key \ˈtər-kē\

Definition of Turkey

  1. country W Asia & SE Europe between Mediterranean & Black seas; formerly center of an empire (∗ Constantinople), since 1923 a republic ∗ Ankara area 301,380 square miles (780,574 square kilometers), pop 73,085,000 — see ottoman empire

Rhymes with turkey

TURKEY Defined for Kids


noun tur·key \ˈtər-kē\

Definition of turkey for Students

plural turkeys

  1. :  a large North American bird related to the chicken and widely raised for food

History for turkey

The plump, chicken-like birds called guinea fowl are of African origin. However, they were introduced into Europe from Mediterranean lands controlled by Turkey, so that in English they were frequently called turkey-cocks or turkey-hens in the 1500s. When the North American birds that we call turkeys entered Europe, they were at first thought to be varieties of guinea fowl and so were also called turkey-cocks, later shortened to turkeys. This name fell out of use for guinea fowl—whose current name more accurately reflects their origin, since Guinea is an old name for West Africa—but it has been kept for the American bird.


geographical name Tur·key \ˈtər-kē\

Definition of Turkey for Students

  1. country W Asia & SE Europe between Mediterranean & Black seas; capital, Ankara

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up turkey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to expose to danger or risk

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