Where does the saying "cold turkey" come from?


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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