trip wire


Definition of trip wire

1 : a low-placed concealed wire used especially in warfare to trip an enemy or trespasser and usually to trigger an alarm or explosive device when moved
2 : something (such as a small military force) intended to function like a trip wire (as to set a larger military force in motion)

Examples of trip wire in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the late nineteen-eighties, Mexico used this technology to set up a seismic trip wire between its capital city and the coast, in order to catch offshore tremors. The New Yorker, 10 Aug. 2021 Alone–style security system, and when Big Man steps on a trip wire, a small windup toy rolls across the floor, posing absolutely no threat to anyone, baby or adult. Oliver Sava, Vulture, 4 June 2021 The yearslong push to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, a proposal that often found its momentum stalled by some political trip wire, received an unexpected boost from Mr. Cuomo’s recent political scandals. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021 As the family makes their way through a deadly silent landscape, Evelyn accidentally sets off a trip wire, rattling a bunch of tin cans as an alarm. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 1 Jan. 2020 Some of those who have hit the trip wire are recent college graduates, installed in jobs usually reserved for officials with decades of experience. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 14 May 2018 But television sports has far more trip wires than sports journalism. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 13 June 2019 Hidden trip wires are another threat that the flames can be used to eliminate. Allison Barrie, Fox News, 23 Mar. 2018 Some neighbors reported they had been told the explosion was the result of a trip wire, but police would not confirm any details of the blast Sunday night. Jeremy Schwartz, ajc, 19 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trip wire.' 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 trip wire

1915, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for trip wire

Time Traveler

The first known use of trip wire was in 1915

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Cite this Entry

“Trip wire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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