[ tur-kee ]
/ ˈtɜr ki /
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noun, plural tur·keys, (especially collectively) tur·key.
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.
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Idioms about turkey

    talk turkey, Informal. to talk frankly; mean business.

Origin of turkey

First recorded in 1545–55; short for Turkey cock and Turkey hen “cock of Turkey” and “hen of Turkey,” first applied to guinea fowl, and later confused with the American bird; see also guinea fowl

Other definitions for turkey (2 of 2)


or Tür·kiye

[ tur-kee; Turkish tur-kee-ye ]
/ ˈtɜr ki; Turkish ˈtɜr ki yɛ /

a republic in western Asia and southeastern Europe. 296,184 sq. mi. (767,120 sq. km): 286,928 sq. mi. (743,145 sq. km) in Asia; 9,257 sq. mi. (23,975 sq. km) in Europe. Capital: Ankara.
Compare Ottoman Empire.

usage note for Turkey

The Republic of Türkiye changed its official name from the Republic of Turkey on May 26, 2022, in a request submitted to the secretary-general of the United Nations by the country's minister of foreign affairs.


an·ti-Tur·key, an·ti-Tür·kiye, adjectivepro-Tur·key, pro-Tür·kiye, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use turkey in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for turkey (1 of 2)

/ (ˈtɜːkɪ) /

noun plural -keys or -key

Word Origin for turkey

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

British Dictionary definitions for turkey (2 of 2)

/ (ˈtɜːkɪ) /

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

Cultural definitions for turkey


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.

notes for Turkey

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.

notes for Turkey

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.

notes for Turkey

After the rise of a nationalist movement led by Kemal Ataturk, the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923.

notes for Turkey

In 1871, the archaeologist and scholar Heinrich Schliemann discovered the site of ancient Troy on the west coast of Asian Turkey.

notes for Turkey

The country's relations with Greece have been characterized by tension and conflict for centuries.

notes for Turkey

Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952.

notes for Turkey

Parts of the country were devastated by an earthquake in 2000.

notes for Turkey

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with turkey


see cold turkey; talk turkey.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.