The word of the day is “Hodu”

Has anyone ever noticed that the word for turkey (Hodu, הודו) in Hebrew is the same as the word for We give thanks (Hodu, הודו)?  Isn’t that fun?  It’s also the name that we use for the nation of India (Hodu, הדו).  If anyone can explain to me how that came to be, I will be greatly appreciative.  Or, is it serendipity within the Hebrew lexicon?

I hope that as we gather for these Thanksgiving holidays, we are able to count our blessings and celebrate those with whom we sit.  And, I personally hope that the opening verse of Psalm 136 rings loud and clear as a true and heartfelt blessing for each and every one of us: Hodu lAdonai ki tov, ki l’olam chasdo; Let us give thanks to the Eternal, as God’s kindness is infinite.

Happy Thanksgiving!



2 thoughts on “The word of the day is “Hodu”

  1. Ofer says:

    The word הודו in Hebrew means India and the birds full name ‘תרנגול הודו’ would be literally translated from Hebrew as ‘Rooster from India’. The term ‘Indian Chicken’ for this North American fowl is prevalent in other languages as well (see It is probably the result of Columbus’s confusion about his whereabouts circa 1492.

    Though the pun connecting the bird’s name with giving thanks is wonderful it is coincidental. The Hebrew term is a mere translation from other languages, most likely Yiddish, Polish or Russian (Indik).

    The imperative ‘Hodu’ in Hebrew actually means ‘give thanks’ (as a command). It shares its root with the word ‘Todah’.

  2. ScottB says:

    Nothing like a little lexocographic research for Thanksgiving morning. Interestingly, the only Biblical appearance of הודו, meaning India, is in the Book of Esther used to describe the extent of Ahasuerus’s realm. In the very first verse of the book, he is described as הַמֹּלֵךְ מֵהֹדּוּ וְעַד-כּוּשׁ, or as king from India to Cush (Ethiopia). Per Brown-Driver-Briggs, the word הודו is thought to derive from Persian for Great River, referring to the river Indus.

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