noun tur·key \ ˈtər-kē \
|Updated on: 8 Jul 2018

Definition of turkey

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

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

Recent Examples of turkey from the Web

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.

Illustration of turkey

illustration of turkey

Origin and Etymology of turkey

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

Other General Sports Terms


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

Definition of Turkey

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

TURKEY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of turkey for English Language Learners

  • : 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

TURKEY Defined for Kids


noun tur·key \ ˈtər-kē \

Definition of turkey for Students

plural turkeys
: 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.

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one who attends or assists a leader

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