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1. Prematurely, impulsively, or rashly. Don't go off half-cocked and say something you'll regret later.
2. Drunk. Do you remember last night at the bar at all? You were half-cocked.
1. mod. unprepared. (see also go off half-cocked.) So he’s half-cocked. So what?
2. mod. alcohol intoxicated. He just sat there, half-cocked and singing.
Prematurely. Like “flash in the pan,” “half-cocked” is a phrase that comes from old firearms. The firing mechanism of a flintlock pistol or musket could be set at full cock, or ready to be discharged, or half cock, which was the equivalent of having a safety on a revolver. A weapon that went off while half-cocked did so prematurely, just like someone who loses his temper without considering the facts or consequences of a situation. To act too soon, especially in a rash or impetuous fashion, is to go off half-cocked.