Posted by Masakim on January 19, 2002
In Reply to: Jump the gun posted by ESC on January 18, 2002
: : : a class assignment is to find the origin of the phrase of "jump the gun." Hope you can help. I have searched and can't seem to narrow down my search. Thanks
: : Guns (shooting blanks, fortunately) are tradionally used to start races. To leave the starting blocks before the signal, to "jump the gun," is to start prematurely. No fair.
: JUMP THE GUN -- ".an expression about 50 years old that derives from both foot racing and hunting. An anxious runner often jumps the gun, that is, starts before the starter fires his pistol in a track event, and a startled pheasant will frequently take flight before a hunter can fire his gun, both situations responsible for our figurative use of the phrase -- to begin something before preparations for it are complete." From "The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson, Page 285, (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
jump the gun
Start doing something too soon, act too hastily. For example, "The local weather bureau jumped the gun on predicting a storm; it didn't happen for another two days." This expression alludes to starting a race before the starter's gun has gone off, and supplants the earlier beat the pistol, which dates from about 1900. [Mid-1900s]
From _The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms_ by Christine Ammer
According to Robert L. Chapman's _Dictionary of American Slang, Third Edition_ , the phrase "beat the pistol" is found by 1905.