Nearby words

  1. gumshoe,
  2. gumsucker,
  3. gumtree,
  4. gumweed,
  5. gumwood,
  6. gun brig,
  7. gun camera,
  8. gun carriage,
  9. gun control,
  10. gun crew


Origin of gun

1300–50; Middle English gunne, gonne, apparently short for Anglo-Latin Gunilda, gonnyld, name for engine of war; compare Old Norse Gunna, short for Gunnhildr woman's name

Related formsgun·less, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for jump the gun



  1. a weapon with a metallic tube or barrel from which a missile is discharged, usually by force of an explosion. It may be portable or mounted. In a military context the term applies specifically to a flat-trajectory artillery piece
  2. (as modifier)a gun barrel
the firing of a gun as a salute or signal, as in military ceremonial
a member of or a place in a shooting party or syndicate
any device used to project something under pressurea grease gun; a spray gun
US slang an armed criminal; gunman
Australian and NZ slang
  1. an expert
  2. (as modifier)a gun shearer; a gun batsman
go great guns slang to act or function with great speed, intensity, etc
jump the gun or beat the gun
  1. (of a runner, etc) to set off before the starting signal is given
  2. informalto act prematurely
spike someone's guns See spike 1 (def. 15)
stick to one's guns informal to maintain one's opinions or intentions in spite of opposition

verb guns, gunning or gunned

(when tr, often foll by down) to shoot (someone) with a gun
(tr) to press hard on the accelerator of (an engine)to gun the engine of a car
(intr) to hunt with a gun
See also gun for

Word Origin for gun

C14: probably from a female pet name shortened from the Scandinavian name Gunnhildr (from Old Norse gunnr war + hildr war)

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

Word Origin and History for jump the gun
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with jump the gun

jump the gun

Start doing something too soon, act too hastily. For example, The local weather bureau jumped the gun on predicting a storm; it didn't happen for another two days. This expression alludes to starting a race before the starter's gun has gone off, and supplants the earlier beat the pistol, which dates from about 1900. [Mid-1900s]


In addition to the idiom beginning with gun

  • gun for
  • gung ho

also see:

  • at gunpoint
  • big cheese (gun)
  • great guns
  • hired gun
  • hold a gun to someone's head
  • jump the gun
  • smoking gun
  • son of a bitch (gun)
  • stick to one's guns
  • under the gun
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.