The word ‘Turkey’ (the bird) in various European languages

The word 'Turkey' (the bird) in various European languages


From Turkey
The guineafowl, a bird from Africa, was imported into Europe I by Turkish merchants. This bird was then known as the ‘turkey coq’. British settlers confused the turkey with the African bird and gave it the same name, ultimately shortened to ‘turkey’

From Calicut (not to be confused with Calcutta);
From Calcoen, the Dutch name for the Indian port and city that became synonymous with the (East) Indies, where many Europeans falsely believed the turkey came from*; many languages in Northern Europe borrowed the name from the Dutch

From India
“Indian/from India” in various languages; all from Persian hindu (“Indian”), from Sanskrit sindhu (“river; stream; Indus”);

“Chicken (or rooster) from India/lndies” in various languages, like French poulet d’lnde, ultimately shortened to dinde, and Basque india oilar, the reason is complex

From Peru
From Portuguese galo do Peru (“rooster from Peru”), shortened to peru; turkeys are not indigenous to Peru, but the name Peru was used as a pars pro toto for all Spanish areas in America; the word reached Croatia and Slovenia through Italy

From France
“French rooster” in Celtic languages; French merchants were the first to introduce the turkey to these lands

From overseas
From Albanian gjel (“rooster”) + deti (“saltwater”), or less literally: ‘sea rooster’; the turkey was brought to Europe by sea.
From Slovak more (“sea”) + -iak (suffix); compare Slovak morca (“guinea pig”), introduced from America around the same time.

From Egypt
From Old Slavic misir (“Egypt”). After the first turkeys arrived in Spain, they were quickly introduced to Northern Africa; some Europeans first encountered the animal in Egypt.

An alternative origin and meaning:
‘Peacock’; from Latin pavo (“peacock”); these birds are not closely related
‘Hen’; from Old Bulgarian kurka (“hen”); not (directly) connected to Serbian curan
‘Blue bird’; from Old Turkic kok (“blue”)+ kus (“bird”)
‘Black grouse’ from Proto-Turkic kortuk (“black grouse; woodcock”)
‘Snot hen’; from Luxembourgish schnuddel (“snot”) + hong (“hen”)

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