push the panic button

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push the panic button

To overreact to a negative situation with an inordinate amount of fear, alarm, or confusion. If you're going to be a successful boss, you can't push the panic button every time your company has a minor setback. New parents tend to push the panic button over every little sniffle their first baby gets. You learn to chill out when you have more kids.
See also: button, panic, push

push the panic button

Also, press the panic button. Overreact to a situation, as in Don't worry; Jane is always pushing the panic button, but I'm sure the baby's fine. This term originated during World War II, when certain bombers had a bell-warning system so that the crew could bail out if the plane was severely hit. Occasionally a pilot would push the button in error, when there was only minor damage, causing the crew to bail out unnecessarily. By 1950 the expression had been transferred to other kinds of overreaction.
See also: button, panic, push

press/push the ˈpanic button

(British English) react in a sudden or an extreme way to something unexpected that has frightened you: Although the team lost yet another match on Saturday, their manager is refusing to press the panic button.
See also: button, panic, press, push

push the panic button

verb
See also: button, panic, push
References in periodicals archive ?
The cashier pushed the panic button, and Westec looked in.
The authorities pushed the panic button after other angry fans gathered around the wheelchair.
Here at Wimbledon in the past, I've maybe pushed the panic button too early.
As soon as I heard him at the garden gate I pushed the panic button, but I didn't think it was working so I phoned the police as well.
AFTER hitting public turbulence over plans to expand LAX, Mayor Richard Riordan apparently pushed the panic button.
Shop owner Rob Keppel, who was in Manchester when the raid happened, said Tom pushed the panic button to alert the police after the robbers fled.