Why Do We Say "Talk Turkey”?

The entire country is about to “talk turkey” because of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, but exactly what does that mean? Although many people say its in reference to the preparation, cooking and eating of the beloved Thanksgiving bird, it actually means to “speak openly or frankly.” The phrase was first formally recorded back in 1824. The story is that a Native American and a white man went hunting together and scored a variety of birds — buzzards, crows and turkeys. At the end of the hunt, the white man allegedly said, "You take the crow and I'll take the turkey, or if you'd rather, I'll take the turkey and you keep the crow," to which the Native American replied, "You're not talking turkey to me." In other words, "You're keeping the better bird for yourself," or "You're not being straight with me.” Use of “talk turkey” spread organically, the way most sayings do, through word-of-mouth. It went mainstream in 1837 when Niles Weekly Register, a popular magazine at the time, printed a version of the story. The rest, as they say, is history.