View synonyms for cold turkey

cold turkey


[ kohld tur-kee ]


, Informal.
  1. abrupt and complete withdrawal from the use of an addictive substance, as a narcotic drug, alcohol, or tobacco.



[ kohld-tur-kee ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to withdraw from (an addictive substance or a habit) abruptly and completely.

verb (used without object)

  1. to withdraw from an addictive substance or a habit abruptly and completely.


  1. abrupt and complete:

    cold-turkey withdrawal from drugs.

cold turkey


  1. slang.
    a method of curing drug addiction by abrupt withdrawal of all doses
  2. the withdrawal symptoms, esp nausea and shivering, brought on by this method

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cold turkey1

An Americanism dating back to 1915–20; probably from the phrase to talk cold turkey “to speak bluntly about something unpleasant,” variant of to talk turkey; turkey

Origin of cold turkey2

First recorded in 1910–15

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. go cold turkey, Informal.
    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.

More idioms and phrases containing 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]

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Example Sentences

She quit the protests cold turkey in October, found a spiritual adviser, started to channel her desire to burn the system down into building up her community.

While most moderate drinkers can handle withdrawal symptoms on their own, if you are truly alcohol-dependent, quitting cold turkey may not actually be safe.

Going "cold turkey" off of heroin, while difficult, is not impossible—and very rarely fatal.

When pushed, users and addicts (including myself), have proven willing to drop the BlackBerry cold turkey.

His jumpiness, he said, was caused by quitting smoking cold turkey.

Quitting cold turkey "had serious physical and psychological effects" that were "extremely negative and lasted a long time."

After two weeks of cold turkey, I sensed he was faltering and bought him some Nicotine gum.

Tootles, said Flick severely, put the cold soup, the cold turkey and the cold pig upon the table.

The alehouse was kept by that cousin of Felix's who was so fond of 'delicate cold turkey,' and who had such choice cherry-brandy.

In a few minutes, a small table, furnished with a cold turkey and a decanter of wine, was laid for her in the bower.

Cut the cold turkey meat into dice and mix it with twice the quantity of diced celery and one cupful of broken walnut meats.

Take a cold roast-beef bone, pieces of beefsteak, the rack of a cold turkey or chicken.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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