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

Example Sentences

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
Regular five-figure supporters like Microsoft and Coca-Cola abruptly cut RAGA off, cold turkey. Ilya Marritz, ProPublica, 20 Apr. 2023 David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images Tech startups hopelessly addicted to Silicon Valley’s drug of choice face a reckoning now that they’ve been forced to quit cold turkey. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 5 Apr. 2023
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 However, the Sixers should spend the final 29 games of the regular season testing out the efficacy of that pairing rather than trying it out cold turkey in the playoffs. Bryan Toporek, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2023 Many others opt for Dry-ish, Dri-er or Damp January — cutting back on alcohol but not quitting cold turkey. Los Angeles Times, 27 Dec. 2022 But what exactly happens to the brain when a person who regularly drinks goes cold turkey — even for a short while? Alexandra Becker, Discover Magazine, 4 Oct. 2022 Going cold turkey may not work for everyone—or be sustainable. Alexa Mikhail, Fortune, 1 Jan. 2023 That’s another argument for companies going cold turkey across all candidates, instead of letting P.R. crises dictate when to donate and when to abstain. Maria Aspan, Fortune, 19 Nov. 2022 The lifelong smoker decided to quit cold turkey at age 50 and vowed to run a marathon. Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2022 See More

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 4 Jun. 2023.

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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