Definition of panic button in US English:

panic button


  • A button for summoning help in an emergency.

    ‘personal attack circuits are operated by panic buttons’
    • ‘We have now fitted an alarm system, with a panic button which switches on all the alarms if you press it.’
    • ‘The radios have a panic button to enable help to be summoned immediately or to order CCTV operators to turn cameras on an incident.’
    • ‘This also benefits the staff, who, should they find themselves in a dangerous situation, are able to press a panic button on the badge, alerting the controller to where they are in the building.’
    • ‘Her home will probably be fitted with a panic button to summon police if she is attacked.’
    • ‘On the night the incident took place, the nurses did manage to press the panic button at the accident and emergency department.’
    • ‘The panic button consists of two buttons, red and green.’
    • ‘No emergency communication system other than a portable panic button is available;’
    • ‘He suggested that schools could install an early-warning system like a panic button or could provide in-house training for teachers to manager difficult people.’
    • ‘He added that the system includes a hidden panic button for hijack situations and emergencies as well as a tow-away alarm.’
    • ‘The terrified cashier couldn't use a panic button to alert emergency services because the phone lines to the garage have been out of order for three weeks.’
    • ‘Bosses of the firm say the new system, which should be installed by the end of August, will also feature a panic button, allowing staff to call for help in an emergency.’


  • press (or push or hit) the panic button

    • informal Respond to a situation by panicking or taking emergency measures.

      • ‘Rather, they always seem to push the panic button of people who believe in esprit de corps more than they believe in the supremacy of the truth.’
      • ‘Instead, he was forced to push the panic button with his team trailing 2-0.’
      • ‘However, no matter how serious or complicated a new situation may appear, it's pointless to press the panic button.’
      • ‘Panic buys have been replaced by pressing the panic button and jettisoning the guy in charge of the team.’
      • ‘We are mindful of that but it is not a situation where we think it necessary to press the panic button.’
      • ‘Our central bankers responded by hitting the panic button, provoking an abrupt and dramatic change in market perceptions.’
      • ‘Moscow, while not publicly pressing the panic button, has reasons to be worried.’
      • ‘Paying too much should never happen if people research their market and approach buying with their emotions turned down, their panic button switched off and their scepticism antennae on high alert.’
      • ‘That's four matches without a win for the Dublin club, but manager, Pete Mahon refuses to push the panic button.’
      • ‘As their science comes increasingly into question, the ‘Greenhouse’ advocates just push the panic button harder.’
      get upset over nothing, react disproportionately, get overexcited, go too far, act irrationally, lose one's sense of proportion, exaggerate, make something out of nothing, make a mountain out of a molehill, blow something up out of all proportion
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panic button

/ˈpanik ˌbətn//ˈpænɪk ˌbətn/