idiom: cold turkey

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Today, I’d like to teach you another strange but interesting idiom. It’s the expression “cold turkey”, and we use it when we want to talk about quitting a bad habit suddenly instead of slowly trying to stop doing it. For example:

My friend quit smoking cold turkey. I don’t know how she could do that. She must have a lot of self control.

My father had to stop drinking cold turkey. His doctor told him if he drank any more alcohol, it would seriously harm his health.

A: How did you quit gambling?

B: I did it cold turkey. It wasn’t easy at first, but it got better after a while.

So, as you can see, we use this idiom in connection with the verbs “quit” or “stop”. I had to look up why we use “cold turkey” to talk about quitting something suddenly and there are no clear explanations, but one theory is that when someone quits using drugs or alcohol suddenly, their skin starts to look white with goosebumps on it. This is similar to the way turkey meat looks before it is cooked; in other words, when it is cold. I don’t know if this explanation is the true one, but it’s interesting.

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