noun trig·ger \ˈtri-gər\

: a lever on a gun that you pull to fire the gun

: something that causes something else to happen

Full Definition of TRIGGER

a :  a piece (as a lever) connected with a catch or detent as a means of releasing it; especially :  the part of the action moved by the finger to fire a gun
b :  a similar movable part by which a mechanism is actuated <trigger of a spray gun>
:  something that acts like a mechanical trigger in initiating a process or reaction
trigger adjective
trig·gered \-gərd\ adjective

Origin of TRIGGER

alteration of earlier tricker, from Dutch trekker, from Middle Dutch trecker one that pulls, from trecken to pull — more at trek
First Known Use: 1621

Other Weapons and Explosives Terms

automatic, carbine, cudgel, muzzle, rapier

Rhymes with TRIGGER



: to cause (something, such as an alarm) to start functioning

: to cause (a bomb) to explode

: to cause (something) to start or happen

trig·geredtrig·ger·ing \ˈtri-g(ə-)riŋ\

Full Definition of TRIGGER

transitive verb
a :  to release or activate by means of a trigger; especially :  to fire by pulling a mechanical trigger <trigger a rifle>
b :  to cause the explosion of <trigger a missile with a proximity fuse>
:  to initiate, actuate, or set off by a trigger <an indiscreet remark that triggered a fight> <a stimulus that triggered a reflex>
intransitive verb
:  to release a mechanical trigger

Examples of TRIGGER

  1. Smoke triggered the fire alarm.
  2. The timer was set to trigger the bomb in exactly one hour.
  3. His remarks triggered a public outcry.
  4. Certain foods trigger his headaches.
  5. The power outage was triggered by heavy rains.

First Known Use of TRIGGER

May 26, 2015
sacrilegious Hear it
grossly irreverent
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears