Gadus morhua and its many names

Gadus morhua, know is English as Atlantic cod, bears many names which seem to connect languages, cultures and places.


Altantic cod bears many names across the world and here are some examples:

Bacalhau (Portuguese), bacalao (Spanish), bakaiļao (Basque), bacallà (Catalan), μπακαλιάρος, bakaliáros (Greek), kabeljau (German), baccalà (Italian), bakalar (Croatian), kabeljauw (Dutch), makayabu (Central and East Africa). Other names include ráktoguolli/goikeguolli (Sami), tørrfisk/klippfisk/clipfish (Scandinavian), stokvis/klipvis (Dutch), saltfiskur (Icelandic), morue (French), saltfish (Caribbean), bakaljaw (Maltese), “labardan” (Russian).

Baccalà and Bacalhau – From where it is from?

There is no precise information on the etymology of the name but there are a few interpretations. First, the term may come from the word stick. There are some doubts if the name is from the aspect of the fish which can be defined as woody or from the stick ( baculum ) which was used to hit the fish to make its flesh softer. Another theory by Otello Fabris, sees the baccalà as a word which is connected to one part of the Venetian ships called bacaladi (baccallari, baccalari) which shapes remind the one of the codfish.

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