turkey

noun

tur·​key ˈtər-kē How to pronounce turkey (audio)
plural turkeys
1
plural also turkey : a large North American gallinaceous bird (Meleagris gallopavo) that is domesticated in most parts of the world
2
: failure, flop
especially : a theatrical production that has failed
3
: three successive strikes in bowling
4
: a stupid, foolish, or inept person

Illustration of turkey

Illustration of turkey
  • turkey 1

Examples of turkey in a Sentence

He was acting like a complete turkey. only a turkey would think it's a good idea to go for a jog when the weather drops below zero
Recent Examples on the Web Brown the ground turkey, breaking it down into bite-size pieces, about 5 to 7 minutes. Bethany Thayer, Detroit Free Press, 6 Apr. 2024 Vendors offered free produce and tacos to attendees, which was advertised, but there was no direct mention of a turkey giveaway that later transpired during the event. Tammy Murga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Apr. 2024 For years now, states throughout this region—arguably the turkey hunting epicenter of America—have been struggling to restore turkey numbers to their former glory. Travis Hall, Field & Stream, 4 Apr. 2024 At its very best, turkey hunting is a close range game. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, 3 Apr. 2024 Victoria Ortiz was enjoying a turkey leg at a Disneyland France cafe with her husband and son two summers ago when her phone pinged. Julia Prodis Sulek, The Mercury News, 1 Apr. 2024 Removing bird feeders and dropped seeds can encourage turkeys to move on. Anne Readel, Better Homes & Gardens, 9 Mar. 2024 Learn how to identify, locate, hunt, and cook these wary gobblers | Hunting SHARE The eastern wild turkey is the most abundant and widely distributed subspecies of turkey in North America. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 27 Mar. 2024 For lunch, a towering turkey club sandwich, a veg-heavy grain bowl, or an iconic burger Recent additions add welcome variety to the restaurant scene while fitting right into this unpretentious neck of the woods. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, 21 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'turkey.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of turkey was in 1555

Dictionary Entries Near turkey

Cite this Entry

“Turkey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turkey. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

turkey

noun
tur·​key ˈtər-kē How to pronounce turkey (audio)
plural turkeys
1
plural also turkey : a large North American bird that is related to the domestic chicken and is domesticated in most parts of the world
2
: something that is a failure
the new play was a turkey
3
: a stupid or foolish person
Etymology

from turkey-cock, an old word for "guinea fowl," from Turkey, a country in Asia Minor; so called because at one time people thought guinea fowl came from Turkey

Word Origin
The bird we now call the guinea fowl was once called the turkey. Turkey was the shortened version of turkey-cock and turkey-hen. The guinea fowl's original home was in Africa. However, Europeans discovered that it was good to eat and did well in captivity, so they brought it back to Europe. Some people mistakenly thought that the birds came from Turkey, and the name stuck. Later, when English settlers first arrived in America, they found a large bird living here that was also good to eat. They called this new bird turkey because it reminded them of the turkey they were familiar with back in Europe.

Geographical Definition

Turkey

geographical name

Tur·​key ˈtər-kē How to pronounce Turkey (audio)
variants or now officially Türkiye
country in western Asia and southeastern Europe between the Mediterranean and Black seas; capital Ankara area 302,535 square miles (783,562 square kilometers), population 81,257,000 see ottoman empire

Note: Turkey was formerly the center of an empire whose capital was Constantinople. Since 1923 it has been a republic.

see also turk sense 1

More from Merriam-Webster on turkey

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