trigger

1 of 2

noun

trig·​ger ˈtri-gər How to pronounce trigger (audio)
1
a
: a piece (such 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
2
: something that acts like a mechanical trigger in initiating a process or reaction

trigger

2 of 2

verb

triggered; triggering ˈtri-g(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce trigger (audio)

transitive verb

1
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
2
: to initiate, actuate, or set off by a trigger
an indiscreet remark that triggered a fight
a stimulus that triggered a reflex
3
: to cause an intense and usually negative emotional reaction in (someone)
Water had a way of triggering my brother and making ordinary, everyday weather take a frightening turn for the worse.Ingrid Law

intransitive verb

: to release a mechanical trigger

Examples of trigger in a Sentence

Verb Smoke triggered the fire alarm. The timer was set to trigger the bomb in exactly one hour. His remarks triggered a public outcry. Certain foods trigger his headaches. The power outage was triggered by heavy rains.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Tenon pleaded guilty to pulling the trigger and agreed to testify against the other suspects. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 12 Feb. 2024 Inappropriate emoji triggers were clearly enough of an issue for one telehealth provider to update its FAQ to distance itself from them. Jon Porter, The Verge, 8 Feb. 2024 Then, tip the bottle and pour wine by releasing the trigger on the opener. Maya Polton, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 Feb. 2024 Prosecutors allege that Jordan pulled the trigger, killing Mizell and injuring another man, while Washington stood guard at the studio door. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 6 Feb. 2024 Navarro’s a quick trigger, so all that goes into anger. Alison Herman, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024 However, the defense argued in opening statements that the blame lay elsewhere: On the husband for purchasing the firearm and encouraging the hobby; on the school for failing to notify her about her son’s behavioral issues; and on Ethan himself, who actually pulled the trigger. Eric Levenson, CNN, 1 Feb. 2024 Her attorney Shannon Smith argued in opening statements that the blame lay elsewhere: On her husband for purchasing the firearm and encouraging the hobby; on the school for failing to notify her about her son’s behavioral issues; and on Ethan himself, who actually pulled the trigger. Eric Levenson, CNN, 31 Jan. 2024 Another model, just to the right of Graves’, uses a trigger on the handle to uncover the spout. Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024
Verb
One accidental error or confidential leak can trigger serious privacy and security violations. Arvind Jain, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 In 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed a set of agricultural laws that had triggered the first round of protests from farmers, who said the legislation would hurt their incomes. Krutika Pathi, Quartz, 13 Feb. 2024 In 2021, farmers camped for months in the Indian capital after Modi withdrew controversial agriculture laws that had triggered the earlier protests. TIME, 13 Feb. 2024 One of the highlights is a Cuban-style pop tart made with guava, cream cheese and topped with a condensed milk icing that will simultaneously trigger nostalgia and remind you how much better homemade is. Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, 13 Feb. 2024 The Shōgun model of femininity, according to which the women are ostensibly subservient but capable of triggering pivotal upheavals, offers juicy material for Hoshi, heartbreaking and unreadable, and Nikaido, who makes her character manipulative and fiercely maternal. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Feb. 2024 The organizers, the Solidarity Union of Individual Farmers, said EU policies triggered the protest. CiarÁn Giles and Monika Scislowska The Associated Press, arkansasonline.com, 10 Feb. 2024 The deaths of some high-profile athletes deaths triggered his interest in anti-doping, just as the extent of East Germany’s doping program was being discovered. Les Carpenter, Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2024 The index jumped 24% in 2023, with stocks rallying powerfully at year end as optimism grew that the Fed could achieve a soft landing, or tamp down inflation without triggering an economic downturn. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trigger.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1916, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of trigger was in 1621

Dictionary Entries Near trigger

Cite this Entry

“Trigger.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trigger. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

trigger

1 of 2 noun
trig·​ger ˈtrig-ər How to pronounce trigger (audio)
: a movable lever that activates a device when it is squeezed
especially : the part of the lock of a firearm that releases the hammer and so fires the gun
trigger adjective
triggered adjective

trigger

2 of 2 verb
triggered; triggering -(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce trigger (audio)
1
: to fire by pulling a trigger
2
: to begin, stir up, or set in motion as if by pulling a trigger
the remark that triggered the laughter

More from Merriam-Webster on trigger

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