The Atlantic

Why Americans Call Turkey ‘Turkey’

How a New World bird came to be named after countries halfway around the globe
Source: Flickr / The Atlantic

Within the turkey lies the tangled history of the world.

Okay, not quite. But not far off, either.

“Turkey” the bird is native to North America. But turkey the word is a geographic mess—a tribute to the vagaries of colonial trade and conquest. As you might have suspected, the English term for the avian creature likely comes from Turkey the country. Or, more precisely, from Turkish merchants in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Dan Jurafsky, another linguist, that Europeans imported guinea fowl from Ethiopia (which was sometimes mixed up with

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