Posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 29, 2007
In Reply to: Hang fire posted by Clint on March 29, 2007
: Hang fire
: I've understoond it when seen in context, but cant seem to remember what it means now. I wonder where the phrase comes from as well.
It comes from muzzle-loading weaponry. To fire a muzzle-loader you ignite a small quantity of priming gunpowder in the pan (with sparks from a flint, or a burning slow-match), and the flame burns through the touch-hole into the barrel where the main charge is, and sets it off. Usually this process takes less than a second, but sometimes, for no visible reason, it can take half-a-dozen seconds or more before the main charge detonates. This delay is called "hanging fire", and very suspenseful and worrying it can be too.