Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: Cold turkey


In honor of Thanksgiving, I shall continue the grand tradition (all of a year old) of exploring idioms involving turkeys. In 2018, we looked at talking turkey. This year, let's go cold turkey.

I happen to like cold turkey. I could definitely go for some right now, especially if it was accompanied by mayonnaise, leftover cranberry sauce, and plenty of salt and pepper, and slammed between two pieces of sourdough toast.

Oh, wait, not THAT cold turkey. We're talking about...
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
...cold turkey as defined by the UK-centric The Phrase Finder:
The sudden and complete withdrawal from an addictive substance and/or the physiological effects of such a withdrawal. Also, predominantly in the U.S.A., plain speaking.  
Phrase Finder goes on to say:
The turkey looms large in the American psyche because of its link to early European colonists and is, as even Limies like me know, the centrepiece of the annual Thanksgiving meal. In the USA, and as far as I can tell nowhere else, 'plain speaking/getting down to business' is called 'talking cold turkey', which has been shortened in present day speech to just 'talking turkey'.
See last year's slang-o-rama for more details on talking turkey. Phrase Finder notes that talking cold turkey dates from about 1914 (so no one better be talking turkey, cold or otherwise, in the Silver Rush series), and going cold turkey turns up in the early 1920s:
'Talking cold turkey' meant no nonsense talking and its partner expression 'going cold turkey' meant no nonsense doing. To 'go cold turkey' was to get straight to the scene of the action - in at the deep end.
What the turkey had to do with plain speaking, we just don't know. There are a few suggestions but none come supported with any evidence and are no more likely to explain the source of the expression any better than ones you could imagine for yourself - better just to admit, we just don't know.
The Online Etymological Dictionary offers its own theory on the origins, pushing the initial date back to 1910:
"without preparation," 1910; narrower sense of "withdrawal from an addictive substance" (originally heroin) first recorded 1921. Cold turkey is a food that requires little preparation, so "to quit like cold turkey" is to do so suddenly and without preparation. To do something cold "without preparation" is attested from 1896.
 Wikipedia has an extensive entry, suggesting the catalyst for cold turkey appears in an 1877 story featured in the UK satirical magazine, Judy. You can read more about that theory here. Of course, this is Wikipedia, so take what you read with a grain of salt.

And some pepper.

And maybe add some cranberry sauce, while you're at it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you (with or without turkey)!

 This is, without a doubt, cold turkey. (Look at those chilly little feet in the snow. Brrr.)
Image by Robert Jones from Pixabay






6 comments:

Liz V. said...

Enjoy tomorrow and particularly the day-after sandwich. You are so right. Best part of turkey eating.

P.S. Sent GR message.

Ann Parker said...

Hello Liz,
Wishing you a cozy Thanksgiving, and many leftovers! :-) Thank you for being a faithful reader of slang-o-rama!

Jake Hansen said...

Thanks for the great post, Ann!

Happy Turkey Day to you and yours tomorrow! :-)

steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Parker said...

Hey Jake! Nice to see you :-) I hope all is going well with you... I miss your blog. You should start it up again!

vj lead said...

Thank you for such an amazing piece of content. Your article is very informative and very well explained.
It was worth of every minute spending to read your blog. I Hope you will keep sharing amazing content like
this.


Buy Heroin online

Call/Fax: +1 (315) 284-0503