Posted by ESC on October 10, 2003
In Reply to: Jump the gun posted by michel on October 09, 2003
: Where does this come from?
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).
When I posted before, someone said: Although the venerable Mr. Hendrickson is usually right on with his explanations, the second half of his explanation of the subject expression is WRONG! No ethical hunter would shoot a pheasant before it took flight, nor would that usually be possible, since a concealed bird is difficult to see. The whole idea of pheasant hunting is to flush the birds into flight so that they become visible and thus are available targets.