The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: The meaning behind Gilead’s most common phrases

Refresh your Handmaid's Tale knowledge!

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The Handmaid’s Tale is back for series four.

The latest series will start on Sunday, June 20, at 9pm on Channel 4.

But as we prepare for the highly awaited new series – we take a look back at the lingo.

Read more: Viewers horrified by The Handmaid’s Tale graphic scenes

This dystopian fantasy series comes with its own unique sayings and very specific meanings behind them.

Need to refresh your The Handmaid’s Tale knowledge?

The Handmaid's Tale
Elisabeth Moss stars as June Osborne in The Handmaid’s Tale (Credit: Channel 4/Hulu)

Here is our round-up of the meanings behind some of The Handmaid’s Tale’s most common sayings:

What does Blessed be the Fruit mean?

The Handmaids repeatedly say ‘Blessed be the Fruit’ throughout each series.

This is a phrase used to wish fertility upon the handmaids.

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The handmaids are women brought into Gilead to provide children for families that are unable to conceive naturally.

However, the phrase is also used as a general greeting and can simply be used to say ‘Hello’.

As with almost all of their sayings, it is steeped in biblical ties and reference.

Handmaids Tale series four episode one
Series four of The Handmaid’s Tale looks as eerie as ever (Credit: Hulu/Channel 4)

What does Under His eye mean?

Under His Eye is another biblical reference, and is used as both a greeting and a goodbye.

It ultimately means to remember that God is watching everyone at all times.

What about May the Lord open?

Whereas May the Lord open is a common response to the term ‘Blessed be the Fruit’.

Again symbolising fertility, it means they are praying for God to bless fertility upon them and their community.

What does Praise be mean on The Handmaid’s Tale?

‘Praise be’ is said when one is happy or grateful.

It is often used once a Handmaid becomes pregnant or gives birth.

It can even be used when the weather is fair.

The Handmaid's Tale
June has facial injuries in the trailer for series four (Credit: Channel 4/Hulu)

Where is Gilead supposed to be?

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in Gilead. It is supposed to be set in what is New England in America.

It is a totalitarian state that has overthrown the government of the United States of America.

What is an unwoman on The Handmaid’s Tale?

An unwoman in The Handmaid’s Tale is a woman that is unable to bear children.

What are The Colonies?

Finally, The Colonies are supposed to be in the mid-west and south-west of America.

They are where criminals, traitors and ‘unwomen’ are sent to complete slave labour for the rest of their days.

The areas are toxic, and most die within years or less of being sent there.

Is The Handmaid’s Tale real?

The Handmaid’s Tale is not real. The popular television series is based on the famous dystopian novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood.

Originally published in 1985, as of 2021 it has sold over eight million copies.

What has Margaret Atwood said about the show?

Margaret Atwood has said she is a fan of the television series The Handmaid’s Tale.

She told The Rolling Stones of her own role and influence on the Hulu series: “I’m called a consultant — that means I don’t have any actual power. I get to read the scripts, and voice opinions, and I talk with Bruce Miller, the showrunner.”

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