Jump the gun

Posted by ESC on January 18, 2002 at

In Reply to: Origin of the phrase "jump the gun" posted by Bob 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 Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson, Page 285, (Facts on File, New York, 1997).