February 19, 2014 – Word of the Day: turkey


A turkey is a large bird that is raised on farms and processed for meat. Turkey meat is a popular substitute for beef or chicken. This bird is also found in the wild where it’s referred to as wild turkey.

In the following set of examples, notice the difference between a turkey as an entire bird (a count noun) and turkey as a form of meat (a noncount noun).

  • I bought a turkey at the store. (an entire bird)
  • We ate turkey last night. (the meat)
  • On Thanksgiving,* most people serve turkey. (the meat)
  • There’s a turkey in the oven. (the entire bird)
  • Do you like turkey sandwiches? (The word "turkey" is used as an adjective in this question.)
  • There’s a turkey living in the wooded area behind my house. (a live bird)

turkey wild turkey

Sometimes the word "turkey" is used when talking about something that fails.

  • The project turned out to be a turkey. (It wasn’t very good.)
  • This TV show is a real turkey. (It’s terrible.)
  • That idea has "turkey" written all over it. (In my opinion, this is a very bad idea.)

A few expressions use this word:

  • Okay, let’s talk turkey. (Let’s get serious.)
  • The best way to quit smoking is to go cold turkey.  (go cold turkey = to stop suddenly without making any exceptions)

Note: This word also refers to the country, Turkey, in southeast Europe.

*Thanksgiving: a national holiday in the United States. There’s more information about it here.

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