[ trig-er-hap-ee ]
See synonyms for trigger-happy on
  1. ready to fire a gun at the least provocation, regardless of the situation or probable consequences: a trigger-happy hunter.

  2. heedless and foolhardy in matters of great importance and recklessly advocating action that can result in war: Some called him a trigger-happy candidate.

  1. eager to point out the mistakes or shortcomings of others; aggressively or wantonly critical: He's a trigger-happy editor with a nervous blue pencil.

Origin of trigger-happy

First recorded in 1940–45

Words Nearby trigger-happy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use trigger-happy in a sentence

  • However, a couple of trigger-happy vedettes let off their carbines at them, yelled, "The Rebs are coming!"

    Rebel Raider | H. Beam Piper
  • Uncle John provided our hunting excitement by turning out to be one of the trigger-happy types.

    Inside John Barth | William W. Stuart
  • Suppose he broke surface right in front of a flock of trigger-happy Enforcers?

    The Best Made Plans | Everett B. Cole
  • At least, he was reasonably sure that none of Klem Zareff's trigger-happy mercenaries would shoot him down coming in.

    The Cosmic Computer | Henry Beam Piper
  • The man in charge saw Gilgamesh on the alarm screens and got trigger-happy.

    The Lost Kafoozalum | Pauline Ashwell

British Dictionary definitions for trigger-happy


  1. tending to resort to the use of firearms or violence irresponsibly

  2. tending to act rashly or without due consideration

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with trigger-happy


Inclined to act violently at the slightest provocation, as in They feared that the President was trigger happy and would send in troops at the drop of a hat. This expression alludes to being too eager to fire a gun. [c. 1940]

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