What does ‘jump the gun’ mean?

If you ‘jump the gun,’ you do something too soon or before the right time.

It’s usually used when you do something important without thinking about it carefully or being fully prepared.

This idiom comes from the idea of starting a race before the starter’s gun goes off (see below).

Jumping the gun in a race

Here are some examples:

Don’t you think you’re jumping the gun talking about marriage? You’ve only just met.

A: Shall we have a party to celebrate your new job? B: Let’s not jump the gun, I haven’t definitely got the job yet.

The manager jumped the gun by talking about the staff pay rise before it had been approved.

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The word ‘jump’ in ‘jump the gun’ doesn’t mean jumping into the air. It means doing something quickly or suddenly. ‘Jump’ can also have this meaning in other situations. For example, ‘Sally jumped on the train as soon as it arrived’, ‘Sam jumped from his seat at the girl’s cry.’

Extra tip!:  Be careful not to mistake this idiom with ‘stick to your guns.’ This idiom means not changing your opinion or decision about something even if other people say you are wrong. For example, ‘Sharon was told she was wrong about wanting to leave school, but she stuck to her guns and left anyway.’

Related links:

What does ‘It’s on my bucket list’ mean?

What does ‘It’s on the house’ mean?

What does ‘Do you get the picture?’ mean?