trigger

noun
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

trigger

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

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Other Words from trigger

Noun

triggered \ ˈtri-​gərd How to pronounce triggered (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for trigger

Synonyms: Verb

activate, actuate, crank (up), drive, move, run, set off, spark, start, touch off, turn on

Antonyms: Verb

cut, cut out, deactivate, kill, shut off, turn off

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The trigger doesn't have to be major: anxiety can come about as a result of mounting stress, plain and simple. Caroline Foran, Glamour, "No, You Don’t Have to ‘Justify’ Your Anxiety," 27 Mar. 2019 Lawmakers can tap both funds during a downturn, subject to specific economic triggers and voting requirements. Hillary Borrud, OregonLive.com, "Oregon lawmakers weigh odds of a recession, as reserves grow," 26 May 2018 In sepsis, the chemicals your body releases into the bloodstream to fight off an infection trigger a response that can damage your organs and dangerously lower blood pressure — sometimes, fatally. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Star Meghan McCain LOST It After Whoopi Goldberg Returned to Give a Health Update," 14 Mar. 2019 People can also sneeze in reaction to non-nose triggers. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Quick Question: Why Do We Sneeze?," 8 Mar. 2019 Many triggers of abdominal pain are situational, James Marion, M.D., a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, tells SELF. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "How to Know If Your Abdominal Pain Is Physical or Mental," 16 Feb. 2019 Before pulling the trigger on a big online home-furnishing purchase: measure. Allison Duncan, WSJ, "The Expert’s Guide to Scoring Décor Deals Online," 14 Feb. 2019 While confirmation bias is usually invisible to us in the moment, its physiological triggers are more detectable. Liv Boeree, Vox, "How an 18th-century priest gave us the tools to make better decisions," 30 Nov. 2018 That means customers will have to weigh his promises about deliveries before the end of the year against the company’s actual track record before pulling the trigger on a new Model 3. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Tesla promises all cars ordered by October 15th will qualify for $7,500 tax break," 12 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

President Trump’s decision to nominate him to be a Federal Reserve board member has triggered a remarkable cascade of derision and condescension from the political left and the poohbahs of the economics academy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Steve Moore for the Fed," 28 Mar. 2019 When the time comes, the passing of the Queen is sure to trigger both acute grief and uncertainty in Britain and around the world. Katie Frost, Town & Country, "What Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies?," 25 Mar. 2019 At one point, the yield had fallen to 2.38 percent, briefly triggering deeper declines in the stock indexes. Joe Mcdonald, The Seattle Times, "Global stocks rebound after slide on growth worries," 26 Mar. 2019 Then there are lifestyle factors such as daytime napping and shift work that can interrupt your body’s sleep-wake patterns, triggering or perpetuating insomnia, according to the NSF. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "How Much Sleep Do I Need?," 21 Mar. 2019 This booster then struck the core of the rocket, causing a significant jolt and triggering one of the Soyuz spacecraft's automatic escape systems. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Two months after mishap, Russian Soyuz rockets back into space with crew," 3 Dec. 2018 Barcelona have been very active in the transfer market so far, signing Brazilian midfielder Arthur and triggering the release clause of defender Clement Lenglet. SI.com, "Barcelona 'Willing' to Let Lucas Digne Leave for Good Offer After Defender Requests Camp Nou Exit," 12 July 2018 Get our daily newsletter The ECJ’s decision in November 2018 put on hold all extradition to Poland from elsewhere in the EU, and triggered multiple requests for ECJ reviews of commercial disputes. The Economist, "Breaking point: December 2020," 5 July 2018 That can force the stock even higher, triggering a cascade of further calls, and leaving shorts with little to show for their naysaying. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "The Agility, Persistence, and Pain Behind Tesla’s Model 3 Manufacturing Turnaround," 1 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of trigger

Noun

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1916, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for trigger

Noun

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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Statistics for trigger

Last Updated

1 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trigger

The first known use of trigger was in 1621

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More Definitions for trigger

trigger

noun

English Language Learners Definition of trigger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a lever on a gun that you pull to fire the gun
: something that causes something else to happen

trigger

verb

English Language Learners Definition of trigger (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something, such as an alarm) to start functioning
: to cause (a bomb) to explode
: to cause (something) to start or happen

trigger

noun
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

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Comments on trigger

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