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Go off half-cocked and go off at half-cock

To go off half-cocked means to act prematurely, to speak prematurely. To go off half-cocked is another idiom derived from the operation of firearms. To fire a flintlock gun, one must pull back the cock, or striker. When a gun is fully cocked, it is ready to fire. When a gun is half-cocked, it is not ready to fire. If one shoots with a half-cocked gun, the result will not be satisfactory. This fact translated into an idiom that describes someone speaking or acting in a manner that is premature, before weighing all factors or being fully prepared. Related phrases are goes off half-cocked, went off half-cocked, going off half-cocked. To go off half-cocked is the North American version of the idiom.

To go off at half-cock is the British version of the idiom, the definition remains the same.


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Examples

That mattered to Mr. Biggs partly because he didn’t want the newspaper editor to go off half-cocked. (The News & Observer)

“One thing I’m not going to do is go off half-cocked like Mr. McCrum did,” he said. (The Texas Tribune)
Legislators so regularly float and often pass goofy bills — such as demands to sell state lands and open public waters to private fish farms — that they shouldn’t be shocked when folks go off half-cocked over a bill to eliminate age requirements for Wisconsin’s mentored hunting program. (The Oshkosh Northwestern)
“We don’t want to go off half-cocked and realize later that it should’ve been half its size or we could’ve doubled its size,” Hyden said.  (The Journal News)
Some of Langridge’s ideas go off at half-cock. (The Financial Times)
“Operation Forto” appeared to go off at half-cock, before the ringleaders had won the unequivocal backing of key generals. (The Asmarino Independent)
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