Posted by Barney on January 20, 2001
: : : It's my impression that in U.S. usage the word "trimmings" in the sense of side dishes has survived only in the cliche that journalists and broadcasters bring out every year to describe Thanksgiving dinner-"turkey with all the trimmings." Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and so forth aren't called trimmings if served on any other day of the year (although I'm not sure about Christmas). Even on Thanksgiving, if the entree happens to be chicken or duck, then the side dishes lose their status as trimmings. And no one would ever say "We're having hamburger with all the trimmings." Does anybody here know of current uses that are exceptions?
: : Actually, in some areas you might hear "hamburger with all the trimmings". But you might also hear "hamburger with all the fixins."
: Or "Hamburger with everything on it" where we already know that "everything" refers to the typical hamburger toppings.
: In the USA (and Canada) to "Trim the turkey" means to prepare it for a speciasl occasion, i.e., Christmas or Thanksgiving. This means stuffing it, presenting it on a special platter trimmed with sprigs of sage etc. A trimmed turkey is presented at the table and carved by the head of the house. In the USA, Thanksgiving is the more predominant "turkey" holiday because it is non-denominational. However, you are correct that when someone says "we're having turkey with all the trimmings" they usually mean all the special side dishes that show up at a special occasions, e.g., sweet potatoe pie.
: Also, at Christmas "We trim the tree" meaning decorate it.
Why, might I ask, is that great American scholar and linguist ex VP Dan Quayle contributing to this forum - I see his trademark.