Where does the saying "cold turkey" come from?

Answer

The idiom "cold turkey" derives from another idiom, "talking cold turkey" or "talking turkey." "Cold turkey" refers to abruptly stopping or starting a certain action, especially abruptly withdrawing from drug use.

"Talking turkey" means speaking plainly and frankly about a topic without any embellishments. "Cold turkey" follows in the same vein, as it entails stopping or starting an activity in a sudden and direct manner without any preparation or assistance.

Another possible derivation of the phrase is a reference to the similarity in appearance of a turkey's skin and the skin of a person withdrawing from drugs. Pale, clammy skin that is covered in goosebumps characterizes both.

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