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See also: Turkey


A turkey


16th century, from Turkey. First used of the guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), native to Africa, which was imported to Europe by Turkey merchants. Slightly later, the word was also used of the larger northern American bird Meleagris gallopavo, which was brought to Spain by conquistadors in 1523. 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 to northern Europe via Ottoman territories, or simply to convey the meaning of “foreign”. Note here the French dinde (from Inde (India)) and Arabic دَجّاج رُومِيّ(dajjāj rūmiyy, literally Greek” or “Christian chicken).



A roasted turkey at a restaurant in Singapore. Roasted turkey is traditionally served to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas

turkey (countable and uncountable, plural turkeys)

  1. Either of two species of bird in the genus Meleagris with fan-shaped tails and wattled necks.
  2. (uncountable) The meat or flesh of this bird eaten as food
    All week after Thanksgiving, I had turkey sandwiches for lunch.
  3. (colloquial) A failure.
    That film was a turkey.
  4. (slang, usually mildly derogatory) A foolish or inept person.
    The turkey cut in front of me and then berated me for running into him.
  5. (bowling) An act of throwing three strikes in a row.
  6. (obsolete) The guinea fowl (Numida meleagris). [from c. 1600]
  7. (medical 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[1], 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.
  8. (dated, slang, US, Australia) A large travel bag; a suitcase; a pack carried by a lumberman; a bindle. [early 20th c.]



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