Turkeys say, "gobble". We also "gobble" down a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving. This is just a bit of idle musing, but are the two meanings of this word somehow related via the American & Canadian holidays?

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    I was just watching a program about wild turkeys, and apparently they make all sorts of noises - upwards of 20 different sounds - but not a single one could be accurately described as sounding like "gobble gobble".
    – Marthaª
    Commented Nov 26, 2010 at 1:10

2 Answers 2


Etymonline has this:

gobble (1) "eat fast," c.1600, probably partly echoic, partly frequentative of gob, via gobben "drink something greedily." Related: Gobbled; gobbling.

gobble (2) "turkey noise," 1680, probably imitative.

The Free Dictionary agrees. So it appears that these are actually two unrelated words that just happen to be spelled identically (much like cleave).


The O.E.D. lists "gobble" as a noun meaning mouth, and "gobbling" as gorging, the latter dating from 1630. Still, I would not be surprised if the verb form meaning the sound a turkey makes is at least in some sense onomatopoeic. Where the two senses may be related is likely to be a confusion of the two.

  • Onomatopoea is my favorite word.
    – user362
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 19:37

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