[ trig-er ]
/ ˈtrɪg ər /


verb (used with object)

to initiate or precipitate (a chain of events, scientific reaction, psychological process, etc.): Their small protest triggered a mass demonstration.
to fire or explode (a gun, missile, etc.) by pulling a trigger or releasing a triggering device: He accidentally triggered his rifle.

verb (used without object)

to release a trigger.
to become active; activate.

Nearby words

  1. trigeminal rhizotomy,
  2. trigeminal rhythm,
  3. trigeminus,
  4. trigeminy,
  5. trigeneration,
  6. trigger area,
  7. trigger finger,
  8. trigger happy,
  9. trigger mechanism,
  10. trigger plant


    quick on the trigger, Informal. quick to act or respond; impetuous; alert.

Origin of trigger

1615–25; earlier tricker < Dutch trekker, equivalent to trekk(en) to pull + -er -er1

Related formsun·trig·gered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trigger

British Dictionary definitions for trigger


/ (ˈtrɪɡə) /


a small projecting lever that activates the firing mechanism of a firearm
machinery a device that releases a spring-loaded mechanism or a similar arrangement
any event that sets a course of action in motion

verb (tr)

(usually foll by off) to give rise (to); set off
to fire or set in motion by or as by pulling a trigger
Derived Formstriggered, adjectivetriggerless, adjective

Word Origin for trigger

C17 tricker, from Dutch trekker, from trekken to pull; see trek

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 trigger
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with trigger


In addition to the idiom beginning with trigger

  • trigger happy

also see:

  • quick on the draw (trigger)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.