Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[tur-kee] /ˈtɜr ki/
noun, plural turkeys (especially collectively) turkey.
a large, gallinaceous bird of the family Meleagrididae, especially Meleagris gallopavo, of America, that typically has green, reddish-brown, and yellowish-brown plumage of a metallic luster and that is domesticated in most parts of the world.
the flesh of this bird, used as food.
  1. a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser.
  2. a naive, stupid, or inept person.
  3. a poor and unsuccessful theatrical production; flop.
Bowling. three strikes in succession.
talk turkey, Informal. to talk frankly; mean business.
Origin of turkey
1545-55; short for Turkey cock and Turkey hen cock and hen of Turkey, first applied to guinea fowl, later confused with the American bird


[tur-kee] /ˈtɜr ki/
a republic in W Asia and SE Europe. 296,184 sq. mi. (767,120 sq. km): 286,928 sq. mi. (743,145 sq. km) in Asia; 9257 sq. mi. (23,975 sq. km) in Europe.
Capital: Ankara.
Compare Ottoman Empire.
Related forms
pro-Turkey, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for turkey
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for turkey


noun (pl) -keys, -key
a large gallinaceous bird, Meleagris gallopavo, of North America, having a bare wattled head and neck and a brownish iridescent plumage. The male is brighter and has a fan-shaped tail. A domestic variety is widely bred for its flesh
the flesh of the turkey used as food
a similar and related bird, Agriocharis ocellata (ocellated turkey), of Central and N South America
any of various Australian birds considered to resemble the turkey, such as the bush turkey
(slang, mainly US & Canadian)
  1. a dramatic production that fails; flop
  2. a thing or person that fails; dud
(slang, mainly US & Canadian) a stupid, incompetent, or unappealing person
(slang) (in tenpin bowling) three strikes in a row
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) talk turkey, to discuss frankly and practically
Word Origin
C16: shortened from Turkey cock (hen), used at first to designate the African guinea fowl (apparently because the bird was brought through Turkish territory), later applied by mistake to the American bird


a republic in W Asia and SE Europe, between the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Aegean: the centre of the Ottoman Empire; became a republic in 1923. The major Asian part, consisting mainly of an arid plateau, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles. Official languages: Turkish; Kurdish and Arabic minority languages. Religion: Muslim majority. Currency: lira. Capital: Ankara. Pop: 80 694 485 (2013 est). Area: 780 576 sq km (301 380 sq miles)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for turkey

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.


country name, late 14c., from Medieval Latin Turchia, from Turcus (see Turk) + -ia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
turkey in Culture

Turkey definition

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.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for turkey



  1. An inferior show, esp a failure; bomb, flop: Management prudently kept the turkey out of town (1927+ Show business)
  2. nything inferior, stupid, or futile; lemon, loser: For all ordinary purposes it was simply a turkey/ calling the bill a turkey, said it would send the wrong signal (1941+)
  3. A stupid, ineffectual person; jerk: You'd be stuck with that turkey practically until he died (1951+)
  4. The victim of a mugging or street robbery: On an average night, they attacked eight victims or ''turkeys,'' taking a total of about $300 (1970s+ Underworld & teenagers)
  5. hree consecutive strikes (1940s+ Bowling)

Related Terms

cape cod turkey, full of shit, talk turkey

[fr the common and perhaps accurate perception of the turkey as a stupid creature, an avian loser; the bowling sense is exceptional]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with turkey


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for turkey

Difficulty index for turkey

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for turkey

Scrabble Words With Friends