Definition of trigger in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘As you said, it's perhaps a trigger for a nuclear device and for a dirty bomb as well.’
    • ‘When released by the gun's mechanical triggers, the coil spring strikers trip a rocker that impacts the firing pin.’
    • ‘Taking vigilant aim she pulled the hammer back seized the trigger and fired.’
    • ‘The teacher sighed and quickly pulled the trigger of the shotgun as an explosive noise ran to all directions.’
    • ‘He wrestled his finger free from the trigger and turned to fire again.’
    • ‘The starter nodded, plugged his ear and pulled the trigger on the shotgun.’
    • ‘Many handbow archers use sights, and latches with triggers called mechanical releases.’
    • ‘Colt's answer was a design that prevents the pistol from firing unless the trigger is depressed.’
    • ‘The pan cover either slid open automatically upon the trigger being pulled or had to be slid open manually first.’
    • ‘Now he just had to pull the trigger to launch the missile.’
    • ‘There is a manual trigger block safety catch located on the left/rear of the frame.’
    • ‘Don't pull the trigger when the safety is engaged or positioned anywhere between safe and fire.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Your finger may straighten with a snap - like a trigger being pulled and released.’
    • ‘Before you pull the trigger, be absolutely sure of your target and what's behind it.’
    • ‘Both eyes wide open I fumbled for the trigger and fired off three shots.’
    • ‘As he moved to pull the trigger I caught a flash of movement behind him.’
    • ‘A trick here is to release the trigger before pulling the gun away to avoid excess caulk oozing out.’
    • ‘Bullets impacted the floor around me as I pulled the trigger and fired back.’
    1. 1.1An event or circumstance that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation.
      ‘the trigger for the strike was the closure of a mine’
      • ‘Imagining the ridiculous trigger for the situation, Mallory shook her head in bewilderment.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Repeatedly low readings in a certain situation may indicate the trigger.’
      • ‘There is a great deal of debate surrounding the causes or triggers of trichotillomania, complicated by its heterogeneity.’
      • ‘Your child's triggers will determine what steps you need to take to prevent asthma flare-ups where you're staying.’
      • ‘The election was probably the trigger for the latest wave of terror attacks.’
      • ‘Elements such as the circle also contain their own event triggers to tie scripts to the elements.’
      • ‘This was intended to be a constructive process, not a trigger for criticism, blame, or ill considered actions.’
      • ‘Anger triggers are situations in which expectations of fair play are violated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The event acts as a trigger or catalyst, which catapults them into an awareness of this phenomena.’
      • ‘There is still much speculation concerning initiating triggers.’
      • ‘Event triggers and in-game cinematics will then guide you although you will determine how a mission will be accomplished.’
      • ‘All these triggers may also cause a relapse in a patient recovering from ME.’
      • ‘It has also codified a number of issues such as retrenchment and dismissal which were previously major strike triggers.’
      • ‘Other triggers include bright lights, stressful situations, and other illnesses such as a cold or stomach bug.’
      • ‘People search endlessly for a psychological trigger, for a cause, but it can be unhelpful because often there isn't one.’
      • ‘Environmental situations, some chemicals and foods, and a host of other situations are patient-specific triggers.’
      • ‘If certain events are identified as triggers, it may be easier to deal with the stress of them.’
      • ‘If you know exactly what sets you off, you can be mindful of it and remind yourself of the best ways to react in a trigger situation.’


  • 1 Cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.

    ‘an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork’
    • ‘With the Internet, an explosion in the demand for home computers was triggered.’
    • ‘That picture triggered a national scandal, not to mention an emotional shock wave that threw his life off course.’
    • ‘You can reduce the itching, inflammation, and scaling of psoriasis by reducing stress; high stress often triggers outbreaks.’
    • ‘The leaf is modified to form two moving lobes that will close on prey when the trap is triggered via touch-sensitive trichomes.’
    • ‘She never had heartburn and did not recall triggering events or abnormalities prior to the onset of her symptoms.’
    • ‘Observers in Ecuador saw the message as a strong hint that triggered the following events.’
    • ‘In her opinion, instability in relationships and separations are not triggering events.’
    • ‘Here again, the emblem suggests a chain of catastrophic, unspeakable events triggered by irresistible emotions.’
    • ‘Very often a death in the family or the breakdown of a marriage triggers the violent outbursts and the dramatic changes in personality.’
    • ‘The further out on the spectrum of this array, the longer a sequence of events is triggered.’
    • ‘With the prospect of the tragedy triggering a global recession companies lined up in droves to issue profits warnings and swing the axe.’
    • ‘Similarly, real downstream demand, not forecasts, triggers production and procurement processes.’
    • ‘In many parts of the basin, snow stays on the ground for over half the year, and snowmelt usually triggers major high-flow events.’
    • ‘Remember, you have to talk to every single one in order to trigger the event.’
    • ‘The exact cause of psoriasis is not known but it is understood that stress can trigger an outbreak.’
    • ‘Time is inconsequential here and events are triggered by elements of nature.’
    • ‘What specific work of the law triggered this situation is not entirely clear.’
    • ‘Pinch wounding disrupts the epidermis but not the overlying cuticle and triggers only the events shown in black.’
    • ‘In my experience it takes much more than one solar arc progression to trigger events in a natal chart.’
    • ‘What triggers off this process is not fully understood.’
    precipitate, prompt, trigger off, set off, touch off, stimulate, provoke, stir up, fan the flames of
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Cause (a device) to function.
      • ‘The coin was put in the slot that used to trigger the fountain and the last person shot out to the centre of the lake.’
      • ‘But each machine requires a high-precision electronic switch that has a second use: it triggers atomic bombs.’
      • ‘Each time soap was dispensed, the device was triggered to record one count.’
      • ‘Then Dr Salmon triggered a mechanism, which unfurled the umbrellas like a flower and anchored them either side of the hole in the heart.’
      • ‘The cable transmits radio waves so when a trolley passes over this boundary a signal is sent via a central transmitter to a receiver on the trolley which triggers a bolt to lock.’
      • ‘When the freezer door closed behind him, immediately triggering the refrigeration fan, Mr Stark thought someone was playing a joke.’
      • ‘An alarm is triggered if the device is separated from the tag.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘McCulloch prised off the door panel, triggered the first device and was shot in the arm.’
      • ‘A security tag is a small electronic device that triggers an alarm if the product is smuggled outside the showroom.’
      • ‘When your baby wets, it activates the sensor which triggers flashing lights and an alarm.’
      • ‘When the sensor is triggered, compressed air rapidly fills the air bags before the user hits the ground and reduces or prevents injury.’
      • ‘Police believe the bomb was triggered by remote control when a truck carrying security officials arrived.’
      • ‘Both soldiers simultaneously removed their last stick grenades and triggered the fuses.’
      • ‘Electronic switches were triggered and the nearest figure moved towards you.’
      • ‘If the photon passes through the mirror, it automatically triggers a light-sensing device, which fires the gun and shoots the cat dead.’
      • ‘Each machine contains a high-precision electronic switch which triggers atomic bombs.’
      • ‘This operative then either alerts the triggerman or triggers the device himself when a convoy approaches.’
      • ‘With the bills inside the strongbox is an incendiary device triggered by the quantum decay of Cobalt 60.’
      • ‘These battery-operated devices detect movements that can easily be used to trigger a camera.’
      activate, set off, set going, trip
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with object and infinitive](of an event or situation) cause (someone) to do something.
      ‘the death of Helen's father triggered her to follow a childhood dream and become a falconer’
    3. 1.3(especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience.
      ‘she started crying and told me that my news had really triggered her’
      ‘people ask how much I weigh but I won't talk about numbers because I know that triggers me’


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