tur·​key | \ˈtər-kē \
plural turkeys

Definition of turkey 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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


geographical name
Tur·​key | \ˈtər-kē \
variants: or Turkish Türkiye \ ˌtᵫr-​kē-​ˈye \

Definition of Turkey (Entry 2 of 2)

country in western Asia and southeastern Europe between the Mediterranean and Black seas; capital Ankara area 301,380 square miles (780,574 square kilometers), population 73,085,000 — 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

Illustration of turkey

Illustration of turkey


turkey 1

In the meaning defined above

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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: Noun

All of the individuals were then sent into test kitchens outfitted with cameras and told to prepare turkey burgers and salads. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "You're Probably Not Washing Your Hands Right, Study Says," 30 June 2018 Nobody really bothers with a turkey-burger patty melt. Dan Nosowitz, GQ, "Skip the Burger, Eat the Patty Melt," 28 June 2018 There's a three-grain veggie variety, as well as a turkey burger with avocado mayo. Nikki Delamotte, cleveland.com, "Sneak peek: Fast-casual Hello Bistro opens first Ohio location in Beachwood (photos)," 15 May 2018 In the spirit of keeping it simple, try this standard but delicious roast turkey recipe. Womansday.com Staff, Woman's Day, "20 Perfectly Paired Christmas Movie and Dinner Combos," 12 Dec. 2017 Fitzgerald offers leftover turkey recipes for special occasions, for dessert, for drinking, and never for actual consumption. Leah Silverman, Town & Country, "F. Scott Fitzgerald Had Some Ideas For What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers," 23 Oct. 2017 Take a shortcut to flavor by mixing this creamy condiment right into your turkey burger recipe. Country Living, "Turkey Burgers," 21 Jan. 2010 Just listing off the ingredients of these bad boys — half turkey, half Italian, both hoagies smothered in oils, onions, meats, veggies, and cheese galore — is enough to make many mouths water. Kristin Balderas, Philly.com, "How the giant free hoagie from Wawa Hoagie Day gets made," 28 June 2018 The menu includes pulled pork, chicken, smoked ribs, turkey, brisket and hot wings. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "'Let's go downtown': How Chandler's restaurant, bar scene helped transform city," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'turkey.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of turkey


1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for turkey


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

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Learn More about turkey

Dictionary Entries near turkey

Türk cell






turkey beard

Statistics for turkey

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for turkey

The first known use of turkey was in 1555

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More Definitions for turkey



English Language Learners 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


tur·​key | \ˈtər-kē \
plural turkeys

Kids Definition of turkey

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

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Comments on turkey

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


playful or foolish behavior

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