panic button

  1. push/hit/press the panic button, Informal. to give way to panic in a distressing situation.

Origin of panic button

allegedly first used in reference to emergency bell systems on World War II bombers such as the B-17 and B-24 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for hit the panic button

panic button

  1. a button or switch that operates any of various safety devices, for use in an emergency
  2. hit the panic button or press the panic button informal to react to a situation by demanding emergency action; become excited; panic
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