cold turkey

1 of 2


: abrupt complete cessation of the use of an addictive drug
also : the symptoms experienced by a person undergoing withdrawal from a drug
: unrelieved blunt language or procedure
: a cold aloof person
cold-turkey transitive verb

cold turkey

2 of 2


: all at once : abruptly: such as
: without a period of gradual adjustment, adaptation, or withdrawal
quit smoking cold turkey
: without preparation
a new player who started the season cold turkey

Examples of cold turkey in a Sentence

Noun I tried lots of ways to stop smoking, even cold turkey. my new boss is a cold turkey and definitely not one for chitchat
Recent Examples on the Web
How to quit vaping Some people choose to quit cold turkey, but that may not be realistic for everyone, experts note. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, 13 July 2024 Just ask West Bank sweets makers Dec. 13, 2023 In a grim turn, the adverse effects of going cold turkey are suffered not only by erstwhile smokers, but their families. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2024
The girls’ trip turns into a kind of unintended intervention, even a detox, especially once she’s deprived of her phone and forced to go cold turkey. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2022 He’s tried going cold turkey by himself and in clean and sober facilities. Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Mar. 2022 See all Example Sentences for cold turkey 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cold turkey.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1919, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1941, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cold turkey was in 1919

Dictionary Entries Near cold turkey

Cite this Entry

“Cold turkey.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition

cold turkey

cold tur·​key -ˈtər-kē How to pronounce cold turkey (audio)
: abrupt complete cessation of the use of an addictive drug
also : the symptoms experienced by one undergoing withdrawal from a drug
cold-turkey adverb or transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on cold turkey

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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