The best mystery bird – what even is it?

Turkey Etymology word origin

Where are you from? Why are you here? What do I call you?


Let’s talk about turkeys. We name them after the country Turkey because that’s where we thought they were from for a while. Loads of languages name it after India – and Portugese calls it ‘peru’.

I think pretty much everyone is wrong because the bird is from North America – it’s just got a touch of the exotic about it.

And it causes every language a problem – it seems like no one in the world know what this bird is and they particularly have no idea what to call it.

Let me give you a few examples to give you an idea…

In Japan, they call it shichimenchō – which means 7-faced bird.


turkey sad face

How many faces did you say I had?

Albanians think it’s a sea rooster.

Mandarin Chinese says it’s a Fire Chicken (amazing!)

In Swahilli its name means “The great duck” which I think is nice and respectful.

Elsewhere we’ve got sky chicken, elephant chicken, and even Booghalamoon which is an attempt at recreating the gobbling noise that turkeys make.

My favourite though is another entry from mandarin – tushouji – which literally means “cough up a ribbon chicken”

turkey in the dark

Excuse me, what did you just call me?

So looking at a quick sample of world languages, it’s clear to me that we have no idea what this bird is. We don’t know where it’s from or what we should call it.

And after all that linguistic investigation I’d just like to issue a heartfelt apology to turkeys everywhere.

You are the most misunderstood of all the animals and it’s absolutely not your fault that you look like you’ve coughed up a ribbon chicken all over your own face.


All of the names were taken from this Wikipedia page – feel free to fact-check anything you want!