Definition of trigger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrɪɡə/


1A small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun: he pulled the trigger of the shotgun
More example sentences
  • Press the trigger to fire, and the missile is on its way, its own IR seeker taking over.
  • He chuckled and pulled the trigger, firing at the targets even though he wasn't in the booths.
  • Bullets impacted the floor around me as I pulled the trigger and fired back.
1.1An event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation: the trigger for the strike was the closure of a mine
More example sentences
  • The answers to these questions will help you identify some of the reasons for the decision you made, to help you identify triggers, or situations that may be difficult for you.
  • Plus, there aren't any triggers or events in the scenarios, and so the only thing that makes them play differently is the map they take place on, but the maps are a joke.
  • Event triggers and in-game cinematics will then guide you although you will determine how a mission will be accomplished.


[with object]
1Cause (a device) to function: burglars fled empty-handed after triggering the alarm
More example sentences
  • The concept of the device is to activate a remote sensor that will trigger the device on the vehicle that will bring it to a stop.
  • If the photon passes through the mirror, it automatically triggers a light-sensing device, which fires the gun and shoots the cat dead.
  • Each time soap was dispensed, the device was triggered to record one count.
activate, set off, set going, trip
1.1 (also trigger something off) Cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist: an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork
More example sentences
  • Here again, the emblem suggests a chain of catastrophic, unspeakable events triggered by irresistible emotions.
  • The exact cause of psoriasis is not known but it is understood that stress can trigger an outbreak.
  • You can reduce the itching, inflammation, and scaling of psoriasis by reducing stress; high stress often triggers outbreaks.
precipitate, prompt, trigger off, set off, spark (off), touch off, stimulate, provoke, stir up, fan the flames of;
cause, give rise to, lead to, set in motion, occasion, be the cause of, bring about, generate, engender, begin, start, initiate
literary enkindle


quick on the trigger

Quick to respond.
Example sentences
  • Well, as everyone says, she was so funny and so quick and so quick on the trigger, quick on the uptake and so forth.
  • He's brash, quick on the trigger, and careless, but his character is slowly (slow to the extent of never happening) becoming mature, joining his action with reason.
  • Gigot acknowledges that many charge that Bartley was too quick on the trigger, that he didn't always wait to ask the questions before he shot.


Early 17th century: from dialect tricker, from Dutch trekker, from trekken 'to pull'.

  • trek from mid 19th century:

    The Boers were originally Dutch settlers in South Africa, who got their name from the Dutch for ‘countryman, farmer’ ( see boor). Between 1835 and 1837 large numbers of Boers, discontented with British rule in the Cape area of South Africa, migrated north and eventually founded the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State. This was the Great Trek, which largely introduced the Dutch word trek to the English-speaking world. It came from trekken ‘to pull, travel’, from which track may also derive. During the 19th century the word was restricted to South African contexts, but during the 20th migrated into international English for any long, arduous journey. The US science-fiction television programme Star Trek was not a success when it was first shown in 1966 and has given us Trekkie as a word for a Star Trek fan. The ‘pull’ sense of trekken lies behind the thing you pull on a gun, the trigger (early 17th century).

Words that rhyme with trigger

chigger, configure, figure, Frigga, jigger, ligger, rigger, rigor, rigour, snigger, swigger, transfigure, vigour (US vigor)

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: trig|ger

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