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

As far back as the Book of Genesis, when Jacob’s soon-to-be father-in-law tricked him into marrying the wrong daughter, in-laws have been universally acknowledged trip wires. Alessandra Stanley, Town & Country, "New Solutions for Managing the Most Troublesome In-Laws," 19 Oct. 2018 Since then, the bomber’s method has changed – on Sunday, two young men were injured after activating a trip wire; and another explosion occurred early Tuesday at a FedEx distribution center outside of San Antonio. Elaine Aradillas,, "Terror in Austin: Ex-FBI Profiler Who Helped Catch Unabomber Says First Bomb 'Sent a Message'," 20 Mar. 2018 The qualitative release next week remains a potential tripping wire for large banks that are well-capitalized but have faced rebukes from regulators on other aspects of their operations, including consumer harm. Telis Demos, WSJ, "Big Banks Clear Fed’s Stress Tests," 21 June 2018 During the Cold War, a US army mountain outpost in the Fulda Gap, the shortest route between East and West Germany, served as an early warning trip wire for a Soviet invasion of Europe. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode in Space," 26 June 2018 At his new Middle Eastern restaurant in the Arts District, Bavel (the name’s based on a biblical tower) the Bestia chef oversees an operation that’s as tight as a trip wire and powered by an industrial-size reserve of fire and salt. Garrett Snyder, Los Angeles Magazine, "Restaurant Review: Ori Menashe’s Bavel Pushes Mideast Cuisine to New Heights," 21 June 2018 The night of March 18, around 8:30 p.m., a fourth explosion -- possibly triggered by a trip wire -- occurred. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Austin package bomb attacks timeline," 21 Mar. 2018 The system uses seismometers and trip wires to detect the roar of an approaching lahar and trigger sirens and phone alerts so residents can evacuate to high ground. The Seattle Times,, "Yes, Cascades volcanoes could blow -- but not like Hawaii's," 8 May 2018 One of the bombs involved a trip wire, police have said. Phil Helsel /, NBC News, "Austin bomber was 'domestic terrorist,' police chief says," 30 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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Statistics for trip wire

Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for trip wire

The first known use of trip wire was in 1915

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to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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