a small projecting tongue in a firearm that, when pressed by the finger, actuates the mechanism that discharges the weapon.
a device, as a lever, the pulling or pressing of which releases a detent or spring.
anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.
Slang. triggerman.
verb (used with object)
to initiate or precipitate (a chain of events, scientific reaction, psychological process, etc.): Their small protest triggered a mass demonstration.
to fire or explode (a gun, missile, etc.) by pulling a trigger or releasing a triggering device: He accidentally triggered his rifle.
verb (used without object)
to release a trigger.
to become active; activate.
quick on the trigger, Informal. quick to act or respond; impetuous; alert.

1615–25; earlier tricker < Dutch trekker, equivalent to trekk(en) to pull + -er -er1

untriggered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
trigger (ˈtrɪɡə)
1.  a small projecting lever that activates the firing mechanism of a firearm
2.  machinery a device that releases a spring-loaded mechanism or a similar arrangement
3.  any event that sets a course of action in motion
4.  (usually foll by off) to give rise (to); set off
5.  to fire or set in motion by or as by pulling a trigger
[C17 tricker, from Dutch trekker, from trekken to pull; see trek]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1660, earlier tricker (1621), from Du. trekker "trigger," from trekken "to pull" (see trek). Tricker was the usual form in Eng. until c.1750. The verb is first recorded 1930, from the noun. Trigger-happy is attested from 1943.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

trigger definition

  1. n.
    a hired gunman. (Underworld.) : Get your triggers outa here—then we can talk.
  2. tv.
    to start something; to set something off. : The noise triggered an avalanche.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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Example sentences
Other bacteria could have adapted to high fever, which triggers their signals.
What triggers the fight is a small thing, but it's the straw that broke the
  camel's back.
He objectifies those thrills, in consciousness, even as he triggers them.
When the figurine hits the ground, the sound of the impact triggers the lights
  to go on for a fraction of a second.
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