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an itchy trigger finger

1. An inclination or readiness to shoot a gun (especially at someone) without needing much or any provocation or justification. I wouldn't stay too long around here—there are a lot of people with itchy trigger fingers in this part of town.
2. By extension, an inclination, readiness, or tendency to act or react carelessly, rashly, or without due consideration. John's itchy trigger finger is going to get him into trouble with his boss someday. When you're working in a restaurant, it's important not to have an itchy trigger finger when customers come to you with complaints.
See also: finger, itchy, trigger

pull the trigger (on something)

To make a final decision or commit to a certain course of action (about something). Jeff's been hemming and hawing about which car to buy—I wish he would just pull the trigger already! If we don't pull the trigger on this deal then we might never get the chance again.
See also: pull, trigger


1. noun Something that causes one psychological distress, typically because it reminds them of a past trauma. The graphic descriptions in that article were a trigger for me.
2. verb To cause psychological distress in someone, typically by reminding them of a past trauma. This article might be triggering for child abuse survivors.

trigger warning

A statement at the beginning of an article or video advising that its content might be upsetting, especially for trauma survivors. At least that graphic article came with a trigger warning.
See also: trigger, warning

quick on the trigger

 and quick on the draw 
1. Lit. quick to draw a gun and shoot. Some of the old cowboys were known to be quick on the trigger. Wyatt Earp was particularly quick on the draw.
2. Fig. quick to respond to anything. John gets the right answer before anyone else. He's really quick on the trigger. Sally will probably win the quiz game. She's really quick on the draw.
See also: on, quick, trigger

trigger someone off

to cause someone to become angry. (Fig. on trigger something off.) Your rude comments triggered her off. Your comments triggered off Bob's temper.
See also: off, trigger

trigger something off

to set something off, such as an explosion. We were afraid that the sparks from the engine would trigger an explosion off. The sparks triggered off an explosion.
See also: off, trigger

quick on the draw

able to react quickly to a situation He was quick on the draw answering the reporter's questions.
Usage notes: sometimes said about a person who reacts too quickly to a situation and makes serious mistakes
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of quick on the draw (able to take out and shoot a gun quickly)
See also: draw, on, quick


someone who is trigger-happy uses their gun too often and without thinking carefully The book's main character is a trigger-happy New York detective.

quick on the draw

Also, quick on the trigger. Rapid in acting or reacting, as in You have to be quick on the draw if you want to find low-rent housing here, or Bruce was quick on the trigger when it came to answering questions. The first expression came from the American West's gunslingers and was broadened to mean "a quick reaction" in the first half of the 1900s. The variant originated about 1800.
See also: draw, on, quick

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]
See also: happy, trigger


1. n. a hired gunman. (Underworld.) Get your triggers outa here—then we can talk.
2. tv. to start something; to set something off. The noise triggered an avalanche.


mod. eager to fire a gun; eager to shoot someone or something. Rocko is sort of trigger-happy. Watch out.
References in periodicals archive ?
Dodd, chief financial officer of Quanta Capital Holdings, which received a $3 million payment from an ILW triggered by Hurricane Rita.
Similarly, seismologists cannot be certain that the Landers quake triggered the seismic swarm at Yellowstone because this volcanic area has similar swarms quite often and the activity started almost two hours after the quake in southern California.
Experts say they have little information about the subsurface rocks in the area, and for that reason they cannot rule out the possibility of a triggered quake.
Because it has triggered one of the three tests, the option issued to B is treated as exercised.
However, reflecting pending debt maturities, the release of collateral is unlikely to be triggered until November 2006, when $40 million of FMBs are scheduled to mature.
Note that none of the deferred gain is triggered under Regs.
By implementing our best-practices products to acquire, cross sell, and retain customers, MarketSoft's clients are able to seize missed opportunities from diverse sources including marketing responses, inbound inquiries, qualified referrals, suspect lists, web hits, and triggered events and effectively manage revenue across functions, channels, and lines of business.
com), a global mobile telecom software company and the leading platform provider of In-Call Messaging Services, announced today that they have successfully demonstrated the In-Call triggered MMS capabilities of its software in the first ever network trial on Ericsson MMS technology.
Reported regulatory solvency has continued to be above the required 1x RMM, however, due to heavy reliance on the inclusion of reinsurance protection and future profits (and the hybrid issue itself) in the calculation of statutory solvency, such that the deferral mechanism has not been triggered.
Any NT counter can be monitored, and a supervisory rule can be triggered when that NT counter reaches a certain value.
The Rights are triggered and become exercisable if a person or group acquires beneficial ownership of 15% or more of PrimeSource Common Stock or announces a tender or exchange offer that would result in such beneficial ownership.
The rights are triggered and become exercisable if any person or group acquires, or launches a tender or exchange offer to acquire, ten percent or more of the Company's outstanding shares of common stock (or any additional shares in the case of any person or group that already owns or controls ten percent or more).