Why is a Bad Play Called a “Turkey” and Where Did the Expression Come From?

A “turkey” can describe any person or endeavor that doesn’t live up to its promise, but is most commonly used to describe a bad play.

In the late nineteenth century, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the busiest season for the opening of new plays, just as it is now for movies.

This hurried effort to catch the tourist trade served up disappointments with the same tedium as the turkey served for dinner between the two holidays, and so they were called turkeys.