Where Did the Phrase “Cold Turkey” Come From and What Does it Mean?

The phrase “cold turkey” had the folk symbolism of stark circumstances without the trimmings before it first appeared in print as a reference to drug withdrawal in 1921.

An example, an unadorned sandwich made from the leftovers of a feast as a symbol of having seen better times.

The expression gained credence from the withdrawing addicts’ desperate appearance, cold, pale, pimply skin, making them resemble a cold, uncooked turkey.