Where Does The Term Cold Turkey Come From As In To Give Something Up Cold Turkey?


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Will Martin answered
The earliest recorded use of this term comes in a 1920s article describing a clinic which was supposed to cure drug addicts by simply depriving them of the drug and leaving them to sweat it out - the same meaning as cold turkey today. The article referred to "cold turkey" as an existing phrase, but didn't explain it.

There is a theory that the white, goosefleshed appearance of addicts suffering withdrawal symptoms, might be the origin of the term, but this isn't very likely. It's more probable that the phrase comes from the older American slang term "to talk cold turkey," which means to talk straight and direct, with no tactful evasions or diplomacy. In this case the brutal but effective "cold turkey" method of treating addiction would be the medical equivalent of giving someone a straight talking -to.

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