For centuries, almost every American family has gathered around the table on Thanksgiving Day and enjoyed a meal starring one particular bird as the centerpiece – the turkey. But why do Americans (and other English-speaking nations) call these birds turkeys? Why is their name so similar to the country Turkey?
The answer is pretty simple – ages ago the British thought the turkeys actually came from Turkey and Turkish merchant. The term was already widespread by Shakespeare’s time. On the other hand, the Turkish actually call these birds “hindi”, while the Hebrew word for “turkey” is translated as “chicken of India”. Overall, these birds have been imported to so many countries by so many different sources that their true origin remains a mystery.
One thing is for sure, though – they did not originate from those Turkish merchants the British named them after.