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See also: Turkey


Alternative forms[edit]


A male (tom) turkey (sense 2).
A roasted turkey (sense 2) at a restaurant in Singapore. The dish is traditionally served to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
Slices of turkey (sense 3).

Clipping of turkey-cock and turkey-hen ((originally) the guinea fowl (family Numididae)), which was imported to Europe by Turkey merchants through Turkey. The word was then applied to the larger northern American bird Meleagris gallopavo which was brought to Spain by conquistadors in 1523.[1] This transfer of the name may have occurred because the two birds were considered similar to each other, or because the North American turkey was in part introduced through Ottoman territories, or simply to indicate that it was foreign.



turkey (plural turkeys or (obsolete) turkies)

  1. (countable, originally, now obsolete) The guinea fowl (family Numididae). [from c. 1600]
  2. (countable) A bird in the genus Meleagris with a fan-shaped tail and wattled neck, especially the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo, now domesticated).
  3. (uncountable) The flesh or meat of this bird eaten as food.
    All week after Thanksgiving, I had turkey sandwiches for lunch.
  4. (countable) With a distinguishing word: a bird resembling the Meleagris gallopavo (for example, the brush turkey or bush turkey (Alectura lathami), and the water turkey (Anhinga anhinga)).
  5. (countable, bowling) An act of throwing three strikes in a row.
  6. (countable, medicine, slang, derogatory) A patient feigning symptoms; a person faking illness or injury; a malingerer.
    • [1976, Stephen Charles Frankel, Emergency Medical Care in an Urban Area (Ph.D. dissertation in Anthropology), Berkeley, Calif.: University of California, Berkeley, →OCLC, page 118:
      Mumford (1970) noted that the terms ‘crock’, ‘gomer’, and ‘turkey’, were sometimes utilized by interns to designate different types of undesirable patients, and sometimes used synonymously.]
  7. (countable, Australia, US, slang, dated) A pack carried by a lumberman; a bindle; also, a large travel bag, a suitcase. [from early 20th c.]
  8. (countable, US, slang) A failure.
    Synonym: flop
    That film was a turkey.
    • 2021 April 7, Christian Wolmar, “Electrification is a given... but comfort matters as well”, in RAIL, number 928, page 46:
      There were a few turkeys. In the rush to present a futuristic vision, the railways' heritage was largely forgotten and we ended up with new stations at Euston and at Coventry, its brash sidekick which I particularly loathe, although (of course) it won design awards.
  9. (countable, US, slang, usually mildly derogatory) A foolish or inept person.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:idiot
    The turkey cut in front of me and then berated me for running into him.


Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]

  • gobble (to make the sound of a turkey)


  1. ^ turkey, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1915; “turkey1, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]