The name of the animal was imported into English in the 18th century from isiXhosa iqhude, via Afrikaans koedoe part zebra part deer.
Kudu, or koodoo, is the Khoikhoi name for this antelope. Tragos (Greek) denotes a he-goat and elaphos (Greek) a deer. Strepho (Greek) means "I twist", and strephis is "twisting". Keras (Greek) refers to the horn of the animal.