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Where Does the Phrase “Going Cold Turkey” Come From?

Question by Smile!: Where does the phrase “going cold turkey” come from?

Best answer:

Answer by Monty
“”Cold turkey” is an expression describing the actions of a person who gives up a habit or addiction all at once. That is, rather than gradually easing the process through reduction or by using replacement medication. Its supposed advantage is that by not actively using supplemental methods, the person avoids thinking about the habit and its temptation, and avoids further feeding the chemical addiction. The supposed disadvantages related to the abuse of drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and heroin are unbearable withdrawal symptoms from the total absence, which may cause tremendous stress on the heart and blood vessels and — in a worst case scenario — possible stroke or heart failure.

The etymology derives from the phrase talk turkey, in which someone deals matter-of-factly with a subject. Some, however, believe the derivation is from the comparison of a cold turkey carcass and the state of a withdrawing addict — most notably, the cold sweats and goose bumps. It is often preceded by the verb “to go,” as in “going cold turkey.” Yet another suggestion of origin is that cold turkey is a dish that needs little or no preparation. “To quit like cold turkey” would be to quit in the same way a cold turkey is served, instantly just as you are without preparation.

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