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[kohld-tur-kee] /ˈkoʊldˈtɜr ki/ Slang.
verb (used with object)
to withdraw from (an addictive substance or a habit) abruptly and completely.
verb (used without object)
to withdraw from an addictive substance or a habit abruptly and completely.
abrupt and complete:
cold-turkey withdrawal from drugs.

cold turkey

noun, Informal.
abrupt and complete withdrawal from the use of an addictive substance, as a narcotic drug, alcohol, or tobacco.
go cold turkey,
  1. to stop using an addictive substance abruptly and completely.
  2. to undergo sudden and complete withdrawal from a habitual activity or behavior pattern.
  3. to begin or do something without planning, preparation, or practice.
Origin of cold turkey
1915-20, Americanism; probably from the phrase to talk cold turkey to speak bluntly about something unpleasant, variant of to talk turkey; see turkey Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cold-turkey

cold turkey

(slang) a method of curing drug addiction by abrupt withdrawal of all doses
the withdrawal symptoms, esp nausea and shivering, brought on by this method
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cold-turkey

cold turkey

"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. Cf. cold shoulder.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cold-turkey in Culture

cold turkey definition

To “go cold turkey” is to withdraw suddenly and completely from an addictive substance or some other form of dependency: “Many people who attempt to quit smoking do so by going cold turkey rather than by gradually cutting down.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for cold-turkey

cold turkey


Requiring abrupt and complete deprivation: They tried the cold-turkey cure (1921+)

adverb phrase

  1. Without warning, rehearsal, overture, etc; cold: simply walk in cold turkey and talk things over (1940s+)
  2. : He kicked his habit cold turkey


Basic; unadorned; hard-core: Stalin didn't like certain cold-turkey facts Kennan reported (1920s+)

noun phrase

  1. The plain truth; the STRAIGHT SKINNY (1928+)
  2. Total and abrupt deprivation of narcotics, as distinct from gradual withdrawal (1921+)

verb phrase

  1. : I'll cold-turkey right now: the butler did it (1920s+)
  2. To stop auction bidding and sell at a previously set price (1940s+ Auctioneers)

Related Terms

talk turkey

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with cold-turkey

cold turkey

Immediate, complete withdrawal from something, especially an addictive substance; also, without planning or preparation. For example, My bad shoulder forced me to quit playing tennis cold turkey, or I'd never done any rock climbing, but decided to try it cold turkey. This term may have come from the earlier expression talk turkey (for blunt speaking). At first used strictly for abrupt withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, it soon was transferred to quitting any habit or activity. [ Early 1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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