‘Blessed Be the Fruit’: A Guide to the Phrases Used in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

There are unique jobs like being a Martha or being a commander. The Handmaid’s Tale includes a few phrases only used in Gilead, mostly inspired by religion. Here’s what we know about some words and sayings used in this Hulu original drama series.  

Elisabeth Moss as June, scrubbing a floor looking off camera
Elisabeth Moss as June | Elly Dassas/Hulu

‘Blessed be the fruit’

When birth rates across the globe drastically dropped, some people turned to the bible for answers. As a result, the Republic of Gilead was formed. This society, which is located in the present-day United States, treated women as properties of the state. 

Some fertile women were assigned as “handmaids” to high-ranking officials in an effort to increase the number of children and reward these “commanders” for their service. With this new country came plenty of new phrases used by the citizens.

One of the most common phrases was “blessed be the fruit,” a greeting used by handmaids that was said to encourage fertility. The proper response to this phrase would be “May the Lord open.”

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’Under His Eye’

Another biblical reference, this phrase is used to say hello or goodbye by citizens in the Republic of Gilead. Additionally, some interpret this phrase to mean that the “eyes” (or the secret police of Gilead) are always watching. 

An alternative greeting would be to say “blessed evening” or “blessed day,” instead of phrases used in the United States — “good morning” or “good night.”

‘We’ve been sent good weather’

The Handmaids of these series are allowed very few freedoms. They are, however, allowed to travel to stores like All Flesh and Milk and Honey. They are also allowed to speak select phrases to each other. One of those is, “We’ve been sent good weather.”

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There are other words used in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ including ‘Particicution’

The “eyes,” or secret police of this country, are always watching. Even some of the Handmaids are known to turn in traitors to Gilead. As a result, there are a few forms of punishment administered. 

That includes “particicution,” which is when the Handmaids, dressed in their red cloaks, have free reign to do whatever they want to a rebel. It typically ends in death by beating. There is also “the wall,” where Gilead hung traitors as an example to others. 

Even the words used to describe the careers in Gilead are inspired by religion. The “Marthas” are household servants assigned to people of power. The name comes from one of Jesus’ friends who, according to Refinery29, “is a pragmatic and focused on domestic concerns.”

The Rachel and Leah Center, also known as the Red Center, is where the Handmaids are trained for their new postings. This location was named after the biblical story of Rachel and Leah. 

Seasons 1-3 of The Handmaid’s Tale are available for streaming on Hulu, as are select episodes of season 4.