Why Is The Turkey Named Turkey?

Ta Daaa!! The explanation from The Hot Word site:

…If you’ve ever visited Turkey, you probably ate shwarma, but it’s unlikely that you were served a crispy, golden turkey leg. The former center of the Ottoman Empire isn’t exactly a breeding ground for the bird that we most closely associate with Thanksgiving. In fact, the turkey is native to North America.

So why do they share the same name?…

Here’s how they are related. In the 1540s, the guinea fowl, a bird with some resemblance to the Thanksgiving avian, was imported from Madagascar through Turkey by traders known as turkey merchants. The guinea fowl was also nicknamed the turkey fowl. Then, the Spanish brought turkeys back from the Americas by way of North Africa and Turkey, where the bird was mistakenly called the same name. Europeans who encountered the bird in the Americas latched on to the “turkey fowl” name, and the term was condensed simply to “turkey.” Turkeys have fared better than their guinea fowl relatives on the international scene, perhaps explaining why you probably have never heard of guinea fowl until right now.

The Turkish name for the bird is hindi, which literally means “Indian.” This name likely derived from the common misconception that India and the New World were one and the same.

The turkey’s acceptance into the Old World happened quickly. By 1575, the English were enjoying the North American bird at Christmas dinner…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

An update: Here’s some more juicy information from the Ottoman History Podcast. And did you know that the turkey, like all birds, is a dinosaur? You’ll be eating a dinosaur! 


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