A turkey is a big bird that looks a bit like a huge chicken. If you've ever celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S. or Canada, you've probably seen the large fowl turkey cooked and taking center stage at the elaborate holiday meal.

Beloved as turkeys may be as holiday-eating fare, you, as a human, probably don't want to be called a turkey. The word is an insult, referring to a person who has done something ill advised or stupid, as in that uncle who decides to introduce his new girlfriend to his ex-wife on Thanksgiving Day. Irredeemable? Perhaps not if he then makes three strikes in a row while bowling later that day — earning himself a coveted turkey. Turkey can also refer to "brass tacks." When it's time to outline the facts of a deal, it's time for "talking turkey," always a good thing.

Definitions of turkey
  1. noun
    large gallinaceous bird with fan-shaped tail; widely domesticated for food
    synonyms: Meleagris gallopavo
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    gobbler, tom, tom turkey, turkey cock
    male turkey
    type of:
    domestic fowl, fowl, poultry
    a domesticated gallinaceous bird thought to be descended from the red jungle fowl
  2. noun
    flesh of large domesticated fowl usually roasted
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    type of:
    flesh of chickens or turkeys or ducks or geese raised for food
  3. noun
    a person who does something thoughtless or annoying
    synonyms: joker
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    type of:
    disagreeable person, unpleasant person
    a person who is not pleasant or agreeable
  4. noun
    an event that fails badly or is totally ineffectual
    “the first experiment was a real turkey
    synonyms: bomb, dud
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    type of:
    bust, fizzle, flop
    a complete failure
Commonly confused words

Let's Talk Turkey: A Word That's Waddled Round the Globe

In this excerpt from a new book The Language of Food, linguist and Stanford University professor Dan Jurafsky charts the complicated path the word turkey followed into English.

Continue reading...

Word Family

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