Origin of  phrase “going cold turkey”

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Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV)- Working at those New Year’s resolutions?

Let’s say you’re trying to stop smoking and you want to do it cold turkey.

When did we first start using that expression?

We first find it in the sense of quitting something in a 1921 edition of The Daily Colonist, a British Columbia newspaper.

An article describes a certain doctor who helps patients trying to kick an addictive habit: “When they go before him, they are given what is called the ‘cold turkey’ treatment.” The most likely origin of “cold turkey” is that it comes from another expression to “talk turkey” or “talk cold turkey,” meaning to tell someone something straight and be completely honest and that goes back to the 1820’s.

We’ve found a few more explanations.

One suggests that cold turkey comes from the fact that actual cold turkey, as a dish, takes very little preparation. You instantly quit a habit, just as cold turkey is ready as an instant leftover.


Or withdrawal symptoms can bring on goosebumps, looking like the skin of a cold, uncooked turkey.

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