It’s time to talk turkey

Thanksgiving is all about cooking and eating turkey meat and gravy. The turkey is usually cooked whole and is filled with a stuffing made of bread and spices. So when you are stuffed like a turkey, you are very full from eating a lot of food. You can use this idiom to express admiration for someone’s cooking or to declare you are full and cannot eat any more

By Author   |   Published: 4th Dec 2017   12:15 am Updated: 4th Dec 2017   3:07 pm
expressions

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving around here, but we still get to hear quite a bit about it thanks to the Internet and social media. Since the American Thanksgiving celebration just happened (Canadian Thanksgiving happens a little earlier in the year), it would be interesting to discuss some expressions related to this festival. As you know, Thanksgiving is all about cooking and eating turkey meat and gravy, so we’ll discuss a few expressions related to these words.

Stuffed like a turkey

Examples
1. That was such a delicious meal! I couldn’t stop eating and now I’m stuffed like a turkey.
2. Another helping? Not a chance! I ate so much I’m stuffed like a turkey.
3. Eat some more please! It’s not Thanksgiving if you aren’t stuffed like a turkey.

Meanings and Usage
If you look up how the Thanksgiving turkey is commonly cooked, the meaning of this phrase will become immediately apparent. The turkey is usually cooked whole, and is filled with a stuffing made of bread and spices. So when you are stuffed like a turkey, you are very full from eating a lot of food. You can use this idiom to express admiration for someone’s cooking, or to declare you are full and cannot eat any more.Ironically, people are most likely to use this idiom in the Thanksgiving season, after eating a big turkey dinner.

Practice
1. What sort of food makes you eat till you are stuffed like a turkey? Make a quick list.
2. I’m not suggesting you overeat all the time, but use this expression every time you eat for the rest of this week, even if you are exaggerating.

Gravy train

Examples
1. The company launched a voluntary retirement scheme that was so lucrative that I’ve been riding that gravy train since.
2. My business struggled initially, but after the GST rollout, there is suddenly big demand for our services. This gravy train will help me retire in just five years!

Meanings and Usage
The original expression is ‘riding the gravy train,’ but in conversation this is often shortened to just ‘gravy train.’ In large dinner gatherings in the Victorian times, it was common to fill little boats (boat shaped bowls, basically) with gravy and then pass them around. However, one boat was too small to go all the round the table and would be emptied well before that, which led to the concept of starting the gray train: a number of bowls being passed around the table.

Today the expression refers to any ‘cushy’ or comfortable situation that brings in high rewards in exchange for little or no effort. A comfortable and stress-free job that pays well, for example, could be described as ‘riding the gravy train.’ 

You could also use it to refer to other easy benefits. For example: ‘She just wants company while playing golf, so I get to go along and have fun at the club. Totally loving the gravy train!’

Practice
1. What careers or jobs do you think of as riding the gravy train? Explain why briefly.
2. Use the expression as often as possible in your daily interactions through out this week. If someone asks, take the opportunity to explain the meaning and origin of the expression.

Cold turkey

Examples
1. They say weaning yourself slowly and using nicotine patches is the right way to do it, but from experience I’d say if you want to quit smoking, just do it cold turkey.
2. I was obsessed with that game and I was spending hours and hours on it, ignoring sleep, food, and hygiene. One fine day I realised I had a problem and that was it—I just quit cold turkey.

Meanings and Usage
The expression is generally used in the context of quitting something, especially a bad habit, an addiction, or an obsession. When someone stops doing something abruptly, especially when they were doing it a lot, you can say they quit cold turkey. The expression is commonly used in the context of getting over addictions such as smoking, drugs, gambling, sugar and sweets and so on. Mostly, unhealthy habits are hard to stop. There are many different approaches to getting over addictions (and it’s a field of study in itself), and cold turkey is one of the well-known approaches.

Practice
1. How would you translate this expression to another language that you know? A literal translation most likely will not help. What expressions can you think that convey the same meaning?
2. Do you have any habits that you need to quit cold turkey? Fidgeting? Social media addiction? Make a quick list.