Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a hair-trigger reaction.” This word order is common for this word.
2. After a linking verb, as in "The reaction was hair-trigger.” But that word order seems rare.)
When you describe something as hair-trigger, you mean that it reacts instantly to the slightest thing, or it's really easy to disrupt.
(Think of a hair trigger on a gun: the gun fires at the slightest little touch as light as a hair.)
Note that the adjective has a hyphen: "hair-trigger." When you want the noun, write it as two words: "hair trigger."
If that's hard to remember, then compare other, more familiar word pairs, like "candy apple" and "candy-apple." You talk about eating a candy apple (two words for the noun) and seeing a candy-apple shade of red (one hyphenated word for the adjective.)
How to use it:
To use the adjective, talk about a hair-trigger reaction, a hair-trigger response, a hair-trigger temper, a hair-trigger accusation, a hair-trigger alert, a hair-trigger system, and so on. You can also treat the word like an adverb and say something is "hair-trigger quick," "hair-trigger fast," "hair-trigger sensitive," and so on.
To use the noun, talk about something being ona hair trigger: "His anger is always on a hair trigger." You might occasionally use the phrase "within a hair trigger of something," as in "within a hair trigger of war."
The key here is that when you describe something as having a hair trigger, being on a hair trigger, or being hair-trigger, you're comparing that thing to a gun that could go off at any moment. So, we typically use these words to describe negative things only: often something frightening, violent, sudden, loud, or extreme.
Heidi's camera is incredibly fast, with a hair-trigger shutter button, so I accidentally take three or four pictures at a time with it.
I'd be more willing to be his friend if he didn't have such a hair-trigger temper. It's childish.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "hair-trigger” means when you can explain it without saying “super-sensitive" or “reacting instantly."
Think of a time you were so stressed that you were likely to flip out instantly, and fill in the blanks: "(Stressful event or situation) put me on a hair trigger for (reacting in a certain extreme way.)"
Example: "Dealing with dozens of rude, impatient customers in a row put me on a hair trigger for sassing them right back."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game content is protected by a copyright, so I can't reprint the trivia questions here--but check out the thoughtful and thorough reference book that I got them from: Last Words of Notable People!
A Point Well Made:
Mary Wollstonecraft: “Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world.”
1. The opposite of HAIR-TRIGGER is
2. Known for their hair-trigger indignation, they _____.
A. take offense if you say "autistic child" instead of "child with autism"
B. get mad if you preach your own beliefs too strongly and too often
C. become furious if you blatantly cheat them or steal from them
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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