Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a great opportunity for family and friends to get together, share a delicious meal, and catch up after a long year. It’s also a great way to express gratitude (happiness, appreciation) for the things that you have in your life, and the people you share it with. Because we love Thanksgiving so much, we decided to talk about some common Thanksgiving vocabulary you’ll find in English.

Thanksgiving vocabulary doesn’t just have to be used at Thanksgiving. In fact, you can use many of these words at large family dinners or events. If you’ve ever been invited to Thanksgiving before, chances are you’ve heard some of this Thanksgiving vocabulary before. Read on to learn about some of the words you might hear around the dinner table.

To carve a turkey (ˈtuː ˈkɑːrv ə ˈtɝːki)

Traditionally, we cook a turkey on Thanksgiving. Did you know that there’s a specific word we use to talk about cutting a turkey? When we want to talk about cutting a turkey, we use the word to carve. There’s a specific way that you carve turkey to make sure that you get the most meat off of it. Have you heard this Thanksgiving vocabulary word before? Have you carved a turkey?

For example:

  • Can someone help me carve the turkey, please? I need to take this out of the oven.
  • I don’t really know how to carve a turkey the right way, so every year I get someone else to do it.

Sides (ˈsaɪdz)

Some people, myself included, say that sides are the best part of Thanksgiving! Sides, or side dishes, are what you eat with a main course. So if the turkey is the main course, then everything else you eat with it is a side. On Thanksgiving, sides can be things like mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, and cranberry sauce. In my opinion, sides make the meal! What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side?

For example:

  • When I have Thanksgiving at my house, I cook the turkey and ask everyone to bring a side. That way I don’t have to cook everything myself!
  • An easy way to cook for Thanksgiving is to prepare (make) the sides beforehand, so that all you have to do is stick them in the oven and heat them up later.

Kids table (ˈkɪdz ˈteɪbəl)

When families or friends gather together (meet each other) for Thanksgiving, if there are a lot of children there, there will usually be a kids table. A kids table is a table where all the children can sit. Rather (instead) of sitting with all the adults where they might get bored with the conversation, the kids can all sit together. The kids table was always fun at Thanksgiving! Do you have a kids table at your big family dinners?

For example:

  • Even though all my cousins are all grown up, we still have a “kids table” where we all sit together on Thanksgiving.
  • There are four kids coming to Thanksgiving this year. I think it’s time we set up a kids table this year!

Say what you’re thankful for (ˈseɪ ˈwɑːt ˈjɔːr ˈθæŋkfəl ˈfɔːr)

Some families like to take the time to say what they’re thankful for before they start eating. Because Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude, it can be nice to say the things that you are happy to have out loud. In my family, each person at the table will say what they’re thankful for (what they are happy for), and then we will all start to eat. It can be a very nice tradition (something you do every year). Does your family say what they’re thankful for?

For example:

  • Shall we say what we’re thankful for? I’m thankful to have you all here this year!
  • He was used to saying what he was thankful for before Thanksgiving, but his girlfriend’s family did it a little differently. They wrote it down on pieces of paper and read them all out loud after dinner.

Leftovers (ˈlɛftˌoʊvɚz)

Who doesn’t love leftovers? Leftovers are any food that is not eaten right away, that you can put in the refrigerator and eat the next day. Thanksgiving leftovers are the absolute best! Lots of people like to eat Thanksgiving leftovers in the days following Thanksgiving, because it extends (makes longer) the holiday. Some people don’t like leftovers, though. It’s all up to (dependent on) personal taste!

For example:

  • She doesn’t like leftovers, so when she hosts Thanksgiving, she always gives us the leftovers to take home.
  • Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, she has a plate of leftovers and watches a Christmas movie.

Have you ever had Thanksgiving before? Have you had to use any of this Thanksgiving vocabulary? Let us know in the comments below!


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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and can’t wait to celebrate Thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving vocabulary) this year!

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