at half cock


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at half cock

1. Of a gun, with its hammer pulled back half way (as opposed to "full cock," in which the hammer is positioned as far back as possible in order to allow it to be fired with minimal pressure on the trigger). He wasn't going to shoot—his gun was only at half cock.
2. By extension, hastily or impulsively, without proper preparation. I'll admit that I went off at half cock when I sent that angry email before finding out what really happened.
See also: cock, half

at half cock

when only partly ready. informal
At half cock is used of a firearm with the cock lifted but not moved to the position at which the trigger will act. It is usually found in go off at half cock or go off half-cocked meaning ‘go ahead without making proper preparation and therefore fail’.
See also: cock, half
References in periodicals archive ?
The cylinder was taken out by the hammer being at half cock and the center axis pin removed.
The safety does not block the slide, and it may be engaged with the hammer cocked, uncocked, or even at half cock. There is no de cocking function.
"They were playing at half cock and it looked to me as if they were here for the beer.
But here, it went off at half cock. Melanie Teall did her level best to achieve lift-off, but remained resolutely earthbound.
And advocate Ron Watson, for Martin Barr, said that if they didn't get the chance to examine them, the case would "go off at half cock".