trig·​ger | \ ˈtri-gər How to pronounce trigger (audio) \

Definition of trigger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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


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

Definition of trigger (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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

Synonyms & Antonyms for trigger

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 More important, war crimes are, generally, components of a system, not individual violations, and the ultimate object of an investigation is rarely the person who pulled the trigger. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 The Tigers ended the day with a commitment from one of them, as Posse pulled the trigger during the program’s marquee summer recruiting event — becoming the second 2024 commit of the day for Harsin’s program. Tom Green |, al, 30 July 2022 The driver, identified as 36-year-old Matthew Leahey, aimed the gun at Ramic’s head and pulled the trigger at least twice, said Jeffrey Lowe, a Multnomah County deputy district attorney. oregonlive, 29 July 2022 Prosecutors say her estranged boyfriend, Allen Dale Grant, 62, pulled the trigger and killed her after fatally shooting his neighbor. Ashley Luthern, Journal Sentinel, 27 July 2022 Though the county still has not pulled the trigger on a mandate, health officials have strongly recommended the practice for months — and continue to do so. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, 19 July 2022 The indictment does not specify who pulled the trigger. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 13 July 2022 When a prisoner receiving treatment at Scripps Mercy Hospital on July 2 took a deputy sheriff’s gun and pulled the trigger during a frantic struggle, a nurse’s assistant in the room was instrumental in getting the situation under control. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 July 2022 During the trial, Holder’s lawyer Aaron Jansen said his client pulled the trigger, but the shooting was not premeditated and he instead should have been charged with voluntary manslaughter, according to the Times. Marisa Dellatto, Forbes, 6 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Using its own data, the county calculated new weekly coronavirus-positive hospital admissions as 9.7 for every 100,000 residents — just under the threshold to trigger the mask mandate. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2022 County officials are determining whether there are enough valid signatures on the second recall petition to trigger an election. Andrew Blankstein, NBC News, 26 July 2022 Member countries also negotiated away some of the European Commission’s ability to trigger mandatory cuts, versus the initial proposal. Kim Mackrael, WSJ, 26 July 2022 Smith said that a lot of anglers like to add a hunk of nightcrawler to the hook on their spoons to trigger more strikes. D'arcy Egan, cleveland, 23 June 2022 The stunning development came after enough Conservative lawmakers submitted letters of no confidence to trigger the vote. Karla Adam, Washington Post, 6 June 2022 PolitiFact reported in April that there was no evidence to suggest the fires were intentional or part of a ploy to trigger a nationwide food shortage. Brieanna J. Frank, USA TODAY, 4 May 2022 Interferon genes allow for communication between cells to trigger protective defenses by the immune system to eradicate pathogens. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 The Met Office only expected the ejection to trigger a mild geomagnetic storm. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trigger.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of trigger


1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1916, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for trigger


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

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Time Traveler for trigger

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The first known use of trigger was in 1621

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trigger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for trigger


trig·​ger | \ ˈtri-gər How to pronounce trigger (audio) \

Kids Definition of trigger

: the part of the lock of a gun that is pressed to release the hammer so that it will fire

More from Merriam-Webster on trigger

Nglish: Translation of trigger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trigger for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about trigger


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