It originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, created by the French. The dish is based on the french soup called bouillabaisse. A fish stew originating from Marseilles.
Bouillabaisse comes from two french verbs, bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to simmer).
This is an excerpt from www.gumbocity.com which explains the difference based on the different stocks and thickening products.
" There is also a traditional gumbo recipe made from greens called gumbo herbs, which is a French word for gumbo aux herbs. It is essentially a gumbo of greens thickened with roux. One of the main ingredient of the greens gumbo is okra, and okra is how gumbo got is current name as the word gumbo comes for the West African word for okra.
Although not a popular gumbo recipes can be beef based, but the thing that sets gumbos apart tend to be the characteristics of the type of stock used and the thickening agent used ".
Just a bit of info.....
There are authentic gumbo recipes if you Google the words : Authentic South Louisiana Gumbo.
Remember, whatever Gumbo you decide to make, your Roux makes all the difference.
I don't really buy the bouillabaisse-gumbo connection. They are just too dissimilar, eg use of roux. Also, modern boillabaisse evolved in France well after French emigration to Acadia, Lousiana, and the West Indies.
I took a course in New Orleans on the making of Gumbo. The trick or secret of the Gumbo as explained by the Chef Instructor was the making of the ROUX. He made his in a wok. It had to be extremely dark yet not burned or bitter, constant stirring. After he completed the roux we tasted it and it was not bitter or burned. He then proceeded to go about completing the dish. Seasood, Sausage, Veges, Okra etc. It was excellent.
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume).
Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...