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

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 Complete with this trip wire and the device was hidden along a fence in this normally quiet neighborhood meaning it was put there to randomly detonate on whoever reached it first. Fox News, "Gov. Greg Abbott: 'We are going to find this bomber soon'," 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.

See More

First Known Use of trip wire

1915, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about trip wire

Dictionary Entries near trip wire


trip up


trip wire




Statistics for trip wire

Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trip wire

The first known use of trip wire was in 1915

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on trip wire

See words that rhyme with trip wire

Comments on trip wire

What made you want to look up trip wire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!