Antedating of "cold turkey"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sat Jun 15 17:54:14 UTC 2013

Here's a March 19, 1919 use of "cold turkey" in this sense.
Paper: Tulsa World, published as Tulsa Daily World; Date: 03-16-1919; Volume: XIII; Issue: 174; Page: 4; columns 1-3,Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma  Am. Hist. Newsp. including EAN
[Headline:] Confessions of a "Dope Fiend"....Takes the "Cold Turkey" Cure in Tulsa Jail....
[also used the the article text col. 1:] When a man takes a "cold turkey" cure he must make up his mind to stay clear of his former companions....

Stephen Goranson
From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Hugo [hugovk at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2013 12:48 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] Antedating of "cold turkey"

"cold turkey", an abrupt withdrawal from drugs (OED: 13 Oct 1921)


I like this quote: it's from a doctor who says it's the addicts'  own term and he also defines it in the same sentence.

The Sun,  July 30,  1919,  Page 6,  Image 6, (New York [N.Y.])

[Begin extract]
Reports from several hospitals rela-
tive to the cases of addicts who had been
sent from the clinic to be cured, nearly
all of them giving assurances of speedy
cures failed to impress Dr. Copeland.

"I am not satisfied with the methods
in vogue in this city at present for cur-
ing drug addicts," he said in referring to
this matter. "It has been customary for
hospitals to give what the addicts call
the 'cold turkey treatment,' which means
that the patient is taken off the drug at
once. Two or three days later the ad-
dict is declared to have been cured.

"I have a report from one hospital at
which seven patients are said to have
been 'cured' in two days, and another
from one where eleven are reported as
'cured' in two days. I feel confident
that this practice will be met and cor-
rected through the opening ot the new
hospital, where individual treatment will
be given to each addict."
[End extract]

4th column, image:
Or OCR text:


Two more.

9th August 1921:

A nurse's letter in response, 13th August 1921:



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