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

Essential Meaning of trigger

1 : a lever on a gun that you pull to fire the gun He pulled/squeezed the trigger. Police officers are trained to not be too quick on the trigger. [=eager to fire a gun]
2 : something that causes something else to happen

Full 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Alerts include reminders to use a nicotine lozenge or gum before arriving at a smoking trigger and sends messages that encourage and motivate them to adhere to smoking cessation goals. Bryan W. Heckman, Scientific American, 26 Aug. 2021 Universities are among the first to use the approval as a trigger to institute mandates. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, 24 Aug. 2021 Saltzman’s description of this rough handling of an artistic masterpiece ought to carry a trigger warning for art lovers. Terry W. Hartle, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Aug. 2021 Workouts are actually a fairly common migraine trigger. Kate Watson, Allure, 2 Aug. 2021 Today’s the day on which China Evergrande is supposed to make $83.5 million in dollar-bond interest payments, or trigger China’s biggest debt restructuring to date. David Meyer, Fortune, 23 Sep. 2021 Willis began her message with a trigger warning around body dysmorphic disorder, and shared a photograph of herself alongside a series of shots of mom Moore, 58, from various decades to illustrate her sentiment about comparison robbing her of joy.. Hanna Flanagan,, 23 Sep. 2021 Both trigger production of interferons, which in turn stimulate many genes and proteins that interfere at multiple stages with virus replication. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 22 Sep. 2021 Johnson’s deal is technically not guaranteed yet, but comes with a $250,000 guarantee trigger if he is not waived by Oct. 19, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Jamal Collier,, 21 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Restrictions on credit to the sector have helped trigger a crisis at Evergrande and put pressure more broadly on developers’ stocks and bonds. P.r. Venkat, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 Three plays later, D’Andre Swift had Detroit in the end zone to trigger the 2-point try that Campbell had decided on ahead of time., 11 Oct. 2021 Such measures helped trigger a liquidity crisis for Hui in 2020. Fortune, 11 Oct. 2021 During a speech to the Conservative Party conference last week, Frost threatened to trigger a contentious break clause in the divorce deal if the EU were unwilling to make concessions on Northern Ireland. Danica Kirka, ajc, 10 Oct. 2021 There was a lot of fear that H5N1 was going to trigger a pandemic. Maddie Bender, STAT, 10 Oct. 2021 What seemed to trigger the Cougars was a hint of a running game. oregonlive, 10 Oct. 2021 The type of crack seen in the Coast Guard video is big enough to allow some oil to escape to potentially trigger the low pressure alarm, Kuprewicz said. Fox News, 8 Oct. 2021 The type of crack seen in the Coast Guard video is big enough to allow some oil to escape to potentially trigger the low pressure alarm, Kuprewicz said. Arkansas Online, 8 Oct. 2021

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


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

Time Traveler

The first known use of trigger was in 1621

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trigger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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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