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Related to touch off: On a par, push through, give rise to, fall foul of
touch someone or something off
Fig. to ignite or excite someone or something; to excite anger or chaos. She is very excitable. The slightest thing will touch her off. The appearance of the fox touched off a furor in the henhouse.
touch off somethingalso touch something off
to cause something violent or destructive to start Plans for a new homeless shelter touched off a storm of protest. Windblown wires touched off the blaze. There was a dramatic fall in stock prices, and no one is sure what touched it off.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of touch off (to cause an old-fashioned gun to fire)
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]
1. To cause something to explode or rapidly ignite: The spark touched off the puddle of fuel. A cigarette from a passing motorist touched the dry grass off and started a forest fire.
2. To trigger something; initiate something: Investigators wondered what could have touched the fire off. The news of the scandal touched off a public uproar.