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hair trigger

a trigger that allows the firing mechanism of a firearm to be operated by very slight pressure.
Origin of hair trigger


[hair-trig-er] /ˈhɛərˌtrɪg ər/
easily activated or set off; reacting immediately to the slightest provocation or cause:
a hair-trigger temper.
1885-90 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hair-trigger
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The girl interrupted while Donnegan still had control of his hair-trigger temper.

    Gunman's Reckoning Max Brand
  • It merely exploded him into action like a finger on a hair-trigger.

  • And hubby's hair-trigger temperament she now calls just plain temper.

    How to Analyze People on Sight Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict
  • It is self-love inflamed to the acute point; conceit, with a hair-trigger.

    Pax Vobiscum Henry Drummond
  • Revel's reflexes were still, if not hair-trigger, at least very quick.

    The Buttoned Sky Geoff St. Reynard
  • I then got a new dog and chained him, and a duelling pistol, with a hair-trigger.

    Urban Sketches Bret Harte
  • He was a keen boy with a hair-trigger balance, and in a gunplay he would be apt to beat the best of them all.

    Gunman's Reckoning Max Brand
  • As he was not a thoroughbred, his nerves were not of the hair-trigger order.

    Buff: A Collie and other dog-stories Albert Payson Terhune
British Dictionary definitions for hair-trigger

hair trigger

a trigger of a firearm that responds to very slight pressure
  1. any mechanism, reaction, etc, set in operation by slight provocation
  2. (as modifier): a hair-trigger temper
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hair-trigger

1830, originally a secondary trigger in a firearm which sprung free a mechanism (hair) which, when set, allowed the main trigger (n.) to be released by very slight force. Figurative use by 1841.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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