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Jump the gun

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  • Jump the gun is an idiom, which is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the idiom jump the gun, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    Jump the gun means to do or start something before the appointed time, to act prematurely. The term jump the gun came into mainstream English at the turn of the twentieth century, though at least one source cites the use of the phrase in the Jacksonville Journal Courier in 1830. It is believed that the term jump the gun came from the practice of signalling the beginning of a foot race or horse race by firing a pistol or starter pistol, which is a gun designed to only shoot blanks. Interestingly, in America there was an equally popular phrase, beat the gun or beat the pistol, which has fallen by the wayside. At some point, the phrase jump the gun took on a figurative meaning and became an idiom. Since the early 2000s the starter pistol has for the most part been replaced with an electronic pistol, and the sound that begins most races is now an electronic tone.

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    Examples

    The thinking in the market yesterday was that CIMIC could be trying to jump the gun of a potential pick-up in demand for mining contractors. (The Australian)

    All quarters should not jump the gun over the bill to be brought by PAS president and Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang because the process had not reached that stage yet, he said. (Malaysiakini)

    If your dog tries to jump the gun, correct her with “no,” and a bump on the leash, or just quickly close the door to block her. (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

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