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.


    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

Related Words for triggered

prompt, start, produce, spark, provoke, cause, generate, elicit, activate

Examples from the Web for triggered

Contemporary Examples of triggered

Historical Examples of triggered

  • Joe Chessman took his heavy gun from its holster and triggered it twice.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • The inner airlock door in the orbit-ship was triggered to a fuse.

    Gold in the Sky

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • Perhaps it was just the sound of the word in his head that triggered off the sudden panic.

    Captives of the Flame

    Samuel R. Delany

  • The associations had triggered the wrong words into existence.

    Forget Me Nearly

    Floyd L. Wallace

  • With you helping, we can isolate the thing that triggered you out of this.

    All Day Wednesday

    Richard Olin

British Dictionary definitions for triggered



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 triggered



1650s, earlier tricker (1620s), from Dutch trekker "trigger," from trekken "to pull" (see trek). Tricker was the usual form in English until c.1750. Trigger-happy is attested from 1943.



1930, from trigger (n.). Related: Triggered; triggering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with triggered


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.