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touch off

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verb (tr, adverb)

to cause to explode, as by touching with a match
to cause (a disturbance, violence, etc) to beginthe marchers' action touched off riots

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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

Example sentences from the Web for touch off

Idioms and Phrases with touch off

touch off

1

Cause to explode or fire; also, initiate, trigger. For example, The boys touched off a whole line of firecrackers, or These disclosures will touch off a public uproar. This idiom comes from early firearms, which were set off by putting a light to the touch-hole. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.

2

Depict very precisely, as in He touched off Teddy Roosevelt as well as it's ever been done. [Mid-1700s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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