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half-cock

[haf-kok, hahf-] /ˈhæfˈkɒk, ˈhɑf-/
verb (used with object)
1.
to set the hammer of (a firearm) at half cock.
Origin of half-cock
1825-1835
1825-35

half cock

noun
1.
the position of the hammer of a firearm when held halfway between the firing and retracted positions by a mechanism so that it will not operate.
Origin
1695-1705
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for half-cock
Historical Examples
  • He was a short, puffy little man, with a bullet head at half-cock in the air, producing a general effect of nostrils on you.

  • Then, in a flash, as it were, I remembered that it was on the half-cock.

    Maiwa's Revenge H. Rider Haggard
  • half-cock is the safest position for a loaded single-shot pistol but not safe enough to carry in a pocket or holster loaded.

  • Thus the criticism of the unthinking—of the laymen who went off at half-cock.

    On the Firing Line in Education Adoniram Judson Ladd
  • Quesada crouched behind the whitish-green thicket of sumach, and waited tense as a trigger at half-cock.

    The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey
  • He set the flints at half-cock, and drew back the pins of the priming pans.

    Back o' the Moon Oliver Onions
  • Lower the hammer down to just below half-cock back to half-cock and then release your thumb hold.

  • I've got ideas, and I don't fall down in carrying them out, because I don't go on at half-cock.

    H. R. Edwin Lefevre
  • It is not true; but even if true, better (p. 243) to go off at half-cock than not at all.

  • But you are always at your best when you go off at half-cock like that!

    Ancestors Gertrude Atherton
British Dictionary definitions for half-cock

half-cock

noun
1.
on a single-action firearm, a halfway position in which the hammer can be set for safety; in this position the trigger is cocked by the hammer which cannot reach the primer to fire the weapon
2.
go off at half-cock, go off half-cocked
  1. to fail as a result of inadequate preparation or premature starting
  2. to act or function prematurely
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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10
10
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