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To discuss something in a frank, straightforward, and serious manner. We don't have much time, so let's dispense with the formalities and start talking turkey. Your proposals so far have been completely laughable, so why don't you get back to me when you're ready to talk turkey?
Fig. to talk business; to talk frankly. Okay, Bob, we have business to discuss. Let's talk turkey. John wanted to talk turkey, but Jane just wanted to joke around.
Speak plainly, get to the point, as in Don't call me until you're ready to talk turkey. This expression allegedly comes from a tale about an Indian and a white man who hunted together and divided the game. When the white man said, "I'll take the turkey and you the buzzard, or you take the buzzard and I the turkey," the Indian replied, "Talk turkey to me." Whether or not this tale had a true basis, the term was recorded in its present meaning by about 1840.
talk turkeymainly AMERICAN
If people talk turkey, they discuss something in an open and serious way, in order to solve a problem. Suddenly government and industry are talking turkey. Last month the Prime Minister promised a partnership to improve the climate for business. The next day we got a call to say that he wanted to talk turkey. Note: This expression is said to have its origin in an American story about a white man who went hunting with a Native American. They caught several wild turkeys and some other birds. After the trip the white man divided the birds unfairly, keeping the turkeys for himself and giving the Native American the less tasty birds. The Native American protested, saying he wanted to `talk turkey'.
talk turkeytalk frankly and straight-forwardly; get down to business. North American informal
This phrase was first recorded in the mid 19th century, when it generally had the rather different sense of ‘say pleasant things or talk politely’. Although several theories have been put forward, its origins are not clear.
talk ˈturkey(informal, especially American English) discuss the practical details of something seriously and honestly: Look, Mark, it’s time we talked turkey. How much money can you invest in the company?
tv. to talk serious business; to talk frankly. We’ve got to sit down and talk turkey—get this thing wrapped up. It’s time to talk turkey and quit messing around.
To speak frankly about the basic facts of a matter.
talk turkey, to
To get to the point, speak plainly. This expression has been ascribed to an apocryphal tale about a white man and an Indian hunting and then dividing the spoils. When the white man suggested, “Either I’ll take the turkey and you the buzzard, or you take the buzzard and I the turkey,” the Indian replied, “Now talk turkey to me.” Whatever the true origin, the term was around by the time Thomas C. Haliburton edited Traits of American Humor (ca. 1840), which stated, “I was plagy apt to talk turkey.”
See also: talk