[Ads-l] Antedating =?utf-8?Q?=E2=80=9Ccold_turkey=E2=80=9D_?=(1878)

dave at WILTON.NET dave at WILTON.NET
Sat May 23 13:48:50 UTC 2020

The OED has 1921, Green’s Dictionary of Slang 1920.

It appears in three main senses. The first is that of an easy task or one that is done without preparation. The second is an abrupt action, including, but not limited to, quitting something. Note there is only one pre-1919 use in reference to quitting addictive substances. The third sense appears a bit later and would seem to be a mixed metaphor with “talk turkey” meaning to speak bluntly.

It would seem the underlying metaphor is that of cold turkey being a meal that can be easily made without a lot of preparation. The idea that the metaphor is related to the skin of a withdrawing addicting looking like the plucked skin of poultry would not seem to be the case, since none of the early citations are about withdrawal.

The 1878 citation is especially intriguing. It’s from a news snippet about the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Bosnia, then controlled by the Ottomans. The writer appears to making a pun on the phrase and the Turks, which indicates the phrase was already in existence and reasonably well known to the readership.

I’ve pretty much only looked at ProQuest Historical Newspapers. I’m sure further antedatings are out there.

1) “The Morning’s News.” Minneapolis Tribune, 21 August 1878, 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

The Austrian advance into Russia continues to be stubbornly resisted, and Gen. Phillipovich doubtless begins to look upon that little province as about the liveliest piece of cold Turkey with which he ever had any experience. Had the Bosnians developed such staying qualities when the Musselman soldiers of the Porte were ravaging their homes a year or two ago, their situation now might be very different.

2) “Gunst on Fighters.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 31 January 1892, 22. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Johnston has pretty good judgment in matters of this kind, and if he considers Maher “cold turkey” for John L., as he may in case the long Australian gets his quietus, why, it need not surprise anyone if Sullivan and Maher are matched five weeks from now.

3) “Mitchell Goes to Jail.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 2 December 1892, 5. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

It is stated upon good authority that the reported quarrel between Mitchell and his father-in-law, George Washington Moore, is of a more serious nature than was at first supposed. Pony had an animated discussion with Charley some days ago, the result of which was a mutual agreement to treat each other as strangers from that time forth. Mitchell’s income from his father-in-law’s music hall was not less than $250 a week, and with this “cold turkey,” as he called it, there is one thing left for him to do—fight. The Police Gazette cable goes to show that Mitchell intends to try with Corbett.

4) “Outmatched.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 December 1982, 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Burge and McAuliffe Presented With Real Cold Turkey [sub-headline]


“McAuliffe, who is in the house,” said Burns, “wishes me to say that it was no fault of his that the match with Burge fell through. McAuliffe is ready, as he always has been, to fight at 133 pounds, and he bars no man living at that weight.”

5) “A Good Man.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 22 July 1894, 16. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Say, cull, Patsy Callahan was puttin’ his mit out and going South wit’ me stuff, an’ I ketched him cold turkey, I did, damme.

6) “Corbett in a Fight.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 8 September 1894, 7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

It’s a funny thing that on this anniversary such a nice little bit of cold turkey as this $5,000 should fall in. I wonder what will happen at the third anniversary of my fight with John L.

7) “Just Cold Turkey.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 27 November 1895, 2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Just Cold Turkey

McCoy Didn’t Like the Game and Claimed He Was Sick.

New York, November 26—At a late hour tonight, on Long Island, Dick Collier, the English pugilist, knocked out Jimmy McCoy, the Kansas City middle weight, in the presence of a selected few of Brooklyn and New York sportsmen.

8) “Kid Baldwin: Wants Another Chance.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 16 January 1896, 2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

There was never anything the matter with my eyes, except booze and tobacco, and I have scratched them both. Not any more of that for the Kid. I quit cold turkey on New-Year’s, and I am going to stay quit the rest of my life.

9) “Corbett Talks About Sharkey.” San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 1896, 5. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

“It would certainly not be to my interest to decry this fellow’s pugilistic ability,” explained the conqueror of the once great John L. Sullivan, “and it would surely be unfair to say he is anything but a cold turkey proposition. He is an original sort of fellow, knows very little about rules, but seems to have a most extraordinary fondness for getting punished on the jaw.”

10) “Tintypes and Talk for All Alike.” San Francisco Chronicle, 17 February 1897, 9. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

They made a business proposition to me to by the exclusive right to print any signed statements I might issue, and I agreed. It was just like finding the money and was simply cold turkey for me, so I accepted the proposition.

11) “Baseball Gossip.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 July 1897, 2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Bug Holliday goes right along hitting the ball. He is one of the few players who can come from the bench “cold turkey” and crack ‘em out on the best of twirlers.

12) “Baseball: The Minor Championship.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 4 December 1897, 3. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

“We were like the Reds. Our weakness was in the outfield,” was the reply. “Jimmie McAleer quit us like cold turkey and Sockalexis fell from grace.”

13) “Around the Base Lines.” Minneapolis Tribune, 10 July 1898, 19. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Baltimoreans did turn down the Birds’ “cold turkey,” The revival in Chicago and St. Louis, however, has made all the moguls happy.

14) “Told of Poker Players.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 17 December 1899, 19. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

[Here, Cold Turkey is being used as a nickname for a certain card sharp.]

At the time the plot to skin this plucky sport was hatched Ziemer had in his pocket some $30,000, this money having been won mostly at “short cards” in a year. “Cold Turkey” was a great “jollier,” and, sitting with Ziemer in the party game bantered his victim to play single-handed.

15) “Stake a Nickel.” Minneapolis Tribune, 25 June 1900, 8. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

He rushed in that day and put down a V, cold turkey, on the black. She rolled three times black for him. He shoved forty green ones into his clothes and blowed.

16) “Storm: Prevented Second Game.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 August 1900, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Considering the fact that Mr. Schwab did his performance “cold turkey” without any chance for rehearsal it was most creditable. Few vaudeville performers are in his class when it comes to tickling a French harp and doing some impromptu “footings” simultaneously.

17) “Propositions: Received by the Cincinnati Manger from Other Clubs.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 December 1900, 3. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Wot gits me is day don’t charge us outright, and still, Jennings, who washed dishes at Cornell, says he kin read between the lines an’ see that it is a blood raw, cold turkey knock.

18) “‘Old Gold’ Sketches.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 14 April 1901, B1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Practice cuts no ice. Many a fighter can punch the bag and make and awful front[?], but when another scrapper looms up before him he quits cold turkey. [Cold turkey may be in quotation marks here; the scan is not the best.]

19) “BURIED: Reds Deeper in Hole.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 18 September 1901, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

After he got his pitching arm warmed up a bit he did well, but while it was cold turkey “Bald Archie” thought he was in a shooting gallery.

20) “Boxing Briefs.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 5 November 1901, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Grant is to box Jesse Hudson at the Crown Athletic Club, in Columbus, on Thanksgiving Day. This is a good day for Grant to quit “cold turkey.”

21) “Peter Lang: Was Not Permitted to See His Dead Brother’s Child.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 23 December 1901, 10. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

He claims that Mrs. Yeager refused to permit him to see the child and turned down his Christmas toys cold turkey.

22) “Raiders: After Big League Stars.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 August 1902, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Winnifred narrowly escaped becoming an issue in a midsummer strike of the Ball Players’ Association last season, when the Washington Club bounced him cold turkey and then re-engaged him when the protective association growled a loud protest.

23) “Smoldered: Flame of Rebellion.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 November 1902, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

That the Peoria Club threatened to pull up stakes and quit the Western cold turkey during the campaign of 1902 is a border sensation that smoldered through last season, and the earliest revelation of that made at a Fan Club session yesterday.

24) “The Soo Line has the Key.” Minneapolis Tribune, 13 March 1903, 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

These terms are, so to speak, “cold turkey.” They do not mince matters. It is a simple out-and-out proposal to hoist rates to Northwestern points.

25) “Real: Wire-Tapper Tells of Jobs.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 December 1903, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

We worked the Montreal room with these signals for 11 days, when they refused to take any more bets after first betting. We then decided to stay in one more day and cold-turkey the room—that is, send in wrong results—which we did, breaking the bookmaker, who to-day is under the impression that the scheme was worked by his operator and the bettor, while the operator believes that it was worked between the sending operator in New York and the bettor.

26) “Confident of Acquittal.” Detroit Free Press, 21 June 1904, 5. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Yes, it looks like cold turkey for the police. But I am just as confident of being acquitted as I am of standing here. They have been mistaken before and they are mistaken this time.

27) “Police Chief Only a Name.” Los Angeles Times, 28 October 1907, I4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

While surrounded by men like that, one of these strange cycles of crime strikes you and the people of the city are afraid to go to bed at night. Hold-ups every night, burglaries and bank robberies! You work your good men to death, but there are not enough to go ‘round. You don’t catch anybody. The “cold-turkey brigade” pour in a lot of poor old street corner bums on you as “suspicious characters.”

28) “Week’s Sporting Review for Enquirer Readers.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 2 January 1910, B3. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

He has tried many times to run shows, but there invariably was a slip-up and his show either failed to take place or was a failure. A number of daily papers have come out cold turkey and said they would knock anything he had a hand in, and they have kept their word,

29) “The Sign of the Red Heart.” Washington Post, 23 January 1910, M3. Reprinted from the Kansas City Star, no date for original given. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

He was scared to death and trembin’ and he says, says he to me, “What do you think I’d better do?” “Go back some way,” said I, cold turkey like, “and take a chance with the chair. You’re marked, it looks like to me.

30) “Fear, a Club for I. C. Graft.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 19 September 1910, 8. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

A conference of the car repair company officials was held, and it was decided that they would either have to meet the “graft” requirements or shut up shop. They determined to put the matter up to the Illinois Central people “cold turkey” and a man was sent to see one of the railroad officials.

31) “Civil Service In; Politicians Out.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 1 July 1911, 2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

This is the last time we can talk cold turkey, because tomorrow you will be in the fix of the postmasters and the other fellows who are protected by civil service.

32) “May Dodge Langford.” Washington Post, 6 August 1911, S3. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Although sporting men now are skeptical of Smith’s gameness because of the way he quit cold turkey when booked to meet Langford in the latter part of June, those who have studied the big New York State farmer are of the opinion that once he gets his courage up and is stung a few times by Langford he will give the Boston tar baby a hot argument.

33) “Six Now Seeking Governor’s Seat.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 4 October 1911, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Tonight they seem to have been mistaken, for the former governor and the subtreasurer at midnight were in the tightest kind of a confab in a remote room and were credited with talking “cold turkey” about the governorship.

34) “Fast Time.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 14 September 1912, 9. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Billy Rees and his protege, Battling Wells, are back from Lima, where they were turned down by Jack McHenry, who all along pretended to be anxious to fight the Battler. He quit cold turkey, and Rees is sure that he does not want the Battler’s game.

35) “Sporting Gossip.” Chicago Defender, 26 October 1912, 7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

It looks as though the colored man in football is a thing of the past at Harvard. I learn through reliable sources that Matthews probably will hold the distinction of being the last of our race to wear the coveted Varsity “H” won on either the baseball or football field. They are not turned down “cold turkey,” for one can come out with the call for candidates in the fall, but he never makes the team.

36) “Speaker to Name House Committees; Dunne Plan Loses.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 21 February 1913, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Representative Shanahan, later in a striking speech, in which he talked “cold turkey” to Speaker McKinley, defended the Republican position as necessary at this time.

37) “Jobs to Be Lure to Boost I. and R.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 27 May 1913, 7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Gov. Dunne had not been able to talk “cold turkey” with the senator over what is to be done with the Illinois federal jobs, so this knowledge came from O’Connell.

38) “Utilities Action Waits on Mayor.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 14 June 1913, 2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Gov. Dunne and Mayor Harrison had a conference this morning over the public utilities bill. It is believed the mayor talked “cold turkey” to the governor. No official statement is available as to what happened behind closed doors.

39) “Gunboat Smith Not So Strong Since the Carl Morris Fight.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 October 1913, 27. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

It looked to those who sat in the neighborhood of Carl’s corner, where the men were engaged at the time, as if Smith quit “cold turkey.”

40) “Figures on Baseball for Years to Come Given, Cold Turkey” [Sub-Head]. Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, 19 October 1913, 15. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

41) “News of the Courts.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 April 1914, 5. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Charging that he packed his trunk on April 7, 1913, and with the parting shot, “It is cold turkey for you,” he left her and never returned, May Bell Thomas is seeking a divorce from Lawrence S. Thomas. They were married in November 28, 1905. C. S. Sparks, attorney.

42) “Sullivan Courts Fights from Foes.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 14 May 1914, 4. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

In this frame of mind, Mr. Sullivan, pushing his candidacy along in Madison county, the home of National Committeeman Charles Boeschenstein, talked “cold turkey” to the members of the Democratic county committee, assembled in Edwardsville this afternoon.

43) “Give and Take for Sox and Senators.” Boston Daily Globe, 15 September 1914, 7, ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Ray Collins, who has beaten the Senators three times in four starts this season, was opposed by young Jack Bentley, who last week made the Athletics and New Yorkers eat cold turkey.

44) “Cleaver: May Descend on Farrell.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 5 November 1914, 6. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Johnson declined to go into further details of the coming events scheduled for this session, and passed over the possibility of there being a peace discussion by stating cold turkey that this mat[t]er was not to be considered now or at any future date.

45) “Minor Leagues: Defeated in Fight to Get Representation on National Commission.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 13 November 1914, 8. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Loud squawks emanated from the ranks of the Class C and D magnates when they assembled in the convention chamber and these magnates came out cold-turkey with the assertion that they would not abide by the recommendation of the Special Committee to reduce salary or playing limits in their circuits.

46) “Holdup Men in Police Guise Rob 3 Men; Get $186.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 21 November 1914, 3. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

“Oh, we’ve got a cold turkey rap for you,” said the third bogus sleuth, using a police phrase that means “positive identification.”

47) “Jack Johnson is Seeking Another Go with Willard.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8 July 1915, 17. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

And getting down to cold turkey, it must be admitted that Jack Johnson proved himself a better sport after the Havana fight than many of the whites.

48) “Long Chase After Moonshiners.” The Washington Post, 11 July 1915, MS2. Reprinted from the New York Sun, no original date given. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Gard already had the measure of his man. No sooner had he presented himself than he put his business up to the mountaineer, “cold turkey,” as the agents say when they lay all the cards on the table.

49) Friedman, I. K. “The Letters of a Vaudevillian.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 29 August 1915, B6. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

I got enough of that kind of dope, Rob! If you thinks I am grafting off the act, come out cold turkey and tell me so and I will quit the act.

50) “Lowden Faces Anti-Chicago Revolt in Ranks.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 16 September 1915, 9. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Mr. Lowden, apparently, is ready to talk “cold turkey” to his friends. He has sent out letters over his signature, addressed at Sinissippi Farm, Ogle county, requesting friendly Republicans to call upon him at his headquarters on the second floor of the Leland.

51) “Wolgast After Freddie Welsh for Title Bout.” Chicago Daily Tribune, 19 November 1915, 10. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

The Cadillac kid put it up to Welsh cold turkey, but Welsh and Pollok came back with another proposition.

52) “Jack Dillon Is Light Heavyweight Champion of the United States.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 12 December 1915, A2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Billy Papke was recognized as champion after the death of Stanley Ketchel, and getting right down to cold turkey, Johnny Thompson would have been champion, for he defeated Papke in a twenty-round contest in Australia.

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