at half cock

(redirected from at half-cock)

at half cock

1. Of a gun, with its hammer lifted but not positioned so that the trigger will fire. He wasn't going to shoot—his gun was only at half cock.
2. By extension, to act hastily or impulsively. 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 classic literature ?
Simply, loveliest and most benign of your sex, that once already, in answer to a demand of your hand, you deigned to reply with that energetic and encouraging monosyllable, yes--dear and categorical affirmative--" exclaimed Tom, going off again at half-cock, highly impressed with the notion that rhapsody, instead of music, was the food of love--"Yes, dear and categorical affirmative, with what ecstasy did not my drowsy ears drink in the melodious sounds--what extravagance of delight my throbbing heart echo its notes, on the wings of the unseen winds--in short, what considerable satisfaction your consent gave my pulsating mind
He was white-haired and amiable, with a deep-lined aquiline face, was addicted to low bows, and indeed, always seemed to carry himself at half-cock, as though just descending into one, or just recovering himself.
But now I realise that it's another indication that this project is going off at half-cock.
This scheme has gone off at half-cock, and despite its good intentions, is in grave danger of losing everyone's backing.
All chambers lined up perfectly with the loading gate when the hammer is placed at half-cock for loading or case ejection.
This time it is the reform of the justice system which has gone off at half-cock.
So now it's come up with another scheme that has no certain outcome and is destined to go off at half-cock.
That would have avoided going off at half-cock in a blind panic as Mr Cameron has done, and there would be no threats of a summer of discontent.