Nov 23, 2013

Wordology, Turkey

In the 16th century, when North American turkeys were first introduced to Europe, there was another bird that was popularly imported throughout Europe, called a guinea fowl. This guinea fowl was imported from Madagascar via the Ottoman Empire. The merchant importers were known as “turkey merchants”. The guinea fowl themselves eventually were popularly referred to as “turkey fowl”, similar to how other product imported through the Ottoman Empire acquired their names, such as “turkey corn”, “turkey wheat”, etc.

The North American turkey was first introduced to Spain in the very early 16th century and later introduced to all of Europe. The North American turkey was thought by many to be a species of the type of guinea fowl that was imported from the Ottoman Empire and also were called a “turkey fowl” in English and later shortened to just turkey.