Why Is It Called Cold Turkey?

have you ever heard of the term “cold turkey” being used in reference to something that someone was trying to get out of or quit? You may have heard it used in different contexts, but what does it actually mean? In this article, we’ll explore the origins of the phrase and the definition of “cold turkey.

” You’ll be surprised to find that the origins of the phrase go back to the early 19th century, and even further. So without further ado, let’s answer the age-old question: why is it called cold turkey?

Why Is It Called Cold Turkey?

The expression “cold turkey” has been around since the early 20th century and is often used in relation to quitting something abruptly, especially addiction and unhealthy habits.

Cold turkey implies an immediate and complete stop of whatever one is doing. It’s often linked to the dreaded “cold turkey” withdrawal that many people experience when suddenly giving up addictive substances or habits.

Cold Turkey Origin and History

Let’s dive into the history of the phrase.

The origin of the phrase is ambiguous, but it’s believed that the term was first used in the 1920s and has been in common use ever since. It was probably adapted from the phrase “talk turkey”, which is believed to come from American traders in the 1700s who used turkey as a way of expressing authenticity or truth about a particular deal.

The Expression and Its Meaning

The expression “cold turkey” has been around for over a century, and is generally used to imply an abrupt, complete, and no-nonsense end.

It’s typically associated with quitting something cold, quitting an addiction such as smoking, drugs, or alcohol, ceasing a behavior, or discontinuing something.

Why Called “Cold Turkey”?

The phrase “cold turkey” is often linked with feelings of dread, fear, strong cravings, and physical withdrawal. In the past, the term “turkey” was used to mean something fake or dubious. So the phrase “cold turkey” is believed to imply a swift and absolute end to whatever one is trying to quit or abstain from.


The phrase “cold turkey” is one of the most common expressions in the English language used to refer to an abrupt or complete stop. It’s believed to have originated from the phrase “talk turkey”, which was used when referring to an honest deal.

The phrase “cold turkey” implies an immediate and solitarily no-nonsense end to something, typically referring to the need to quit a habit or addiction. Citation URLs: https://en. oxforddictionaries. com/definition/cold_turkeyhttps://www. dailywritingtips. com/the-origin-of-the-phrase-cold-turkey/https://www. wisegeek. com/why-is-it-called-cold-turkey. htm

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