1540s, "guinea fowl" (Numida meleagris), imported from Madagascar via Turkey, by Near East traders known as turkey merchants. The larger North American bird (Meleagris gallopavo) was domesticated by the Aztecs, introduced to Spain by conquistadors (1523) and thence to wider Europe, by way of North Africa (then under Ottoman rule) and Turkey (Indian corn was originally turkey corn or turkey wheat in English for the same reason).
The word turkey was first applied to it in English 1550s because it was identified with or treated as a species of the guinea fowl. The Turkish name for it is hindi, literally "Indian," probably via Middle French dinde (c.1600, contracted from poulet d'inde, literally "chicken from India," Modern French dindon), based on the common misconception that the New World was eastern Asia.
The New World bird itself reputedly reached England by 1524 at the earliest estimate, though a date in the 1530s seems more likely. By 1575, turkey was becoming the usual main course at an English Christmas. Meaning "inferior show, failure," is 1927 in show business slang, probably from the bird's reputation for stupidity. Meaning "stupid, ineffectual person" is recorded from 1951. Turkey shoot "something easy" is World War II-era, in reference to marksmanship contests where turkeys were tied behind a log with their heads showing as targets.
Republic straddling southeastern Europe and the Middle East, bordered by the Black Sea to the north, Georgia and Armenia to the northeast, Iran to the east, Iraq and Syria to the southeast, the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea to the southwest, and Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest. Ninety-seven percent of the country is in Asia. Ankara is its capital, but Istanbul is its largest city and former imperial capital.
Note: The Ottoman Empire emerged in Anatolia (the western portion of Asian Turkey) during the thirteenth century and survived until 1918. At its height, during the sixteenth century, the empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to western Algeria and included all of southeastern Europe.
Note: The declining Ottoman Empire allied with Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria in World War I and suffered disintegration and Greek occupation at the end of the war.
Note: After the rise of a nationalist movement led by Kemal Ataturk, the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923.
Note: In 1871, the archaeologist and scholar Heinrich Schliemann discovered the site of ancient Troy on the west coast of Asian Turkey.
Note: The country's relations with Greece have been characterized by tension and conflict for centuries.
Note: Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952.
Note: Parts of the country were devastated by an earthquake in 2000.
Note: Turkey has long resisted separatist demands from militant Kurds in the eastern part of the country.
[fr the common and perhaps accurate perception of the turkey as a stupid creature, an avian loser; the bowling sense is exceptional]