touch off: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘touch off’ mean?

The idiom touch off means to ignite or trigger something, often referring to starting a discussion, conflict, or series of events. It can also describe setting off an emotional reaction or provoking a response.

Idiom Explorer

The Origin of Turmoil

The idiom "touch off" is commonly used in American English. It means to cause or ignite something, often describing an action or event that triggers a larger reaction. This phrase can be used to describe situations where a small incident sets off unexpected events.

For example, someone might say, "His controversial comments touched off a heated debate among the politicians." In this case, the initial comments acted as a catalyst for a more intense and prolonged discussion.

"Touch off" is a versatile idiom that can be used in various contexts. It can describe both positive and negative consequences, and it can be used to talk about emotions or reactions, not just physical events. For instance, one could say, "The news of his resignation touched off a wave of sadness and disappointment among his supporters."

The word

One related idiom to "touch off" is "set off". This phrase also means to cause or start something. It can be used interchangeably with "touch off" in many cases. For example, instead of saying "His comments touched off a debate", one could say "His comments set off a debate".

Another related idiom is "kick off". This phrase also means to start something, often referring to the beginning of an event or activity. It can be used in a similar way to "touch off" and "set off". For example, one could say "The festival kicked off with a parade".

Additionally, there is the idiom "touch on". This phrase means to briefly mention or discuss something. It can be used when you want to bring up a topic without going into great detail. For example, one might say "During the presentation, the speaker touched on the importance of teamwork."

Lastly, there is the idiom "torque off". This phrase means to anger or irritate someone. It can be used when you want to express that someone has been bothered or frustrated by something or someone. For example, one could say "Her constant interruptions really torqued me off during the meeting".

The idiom "touch off" is commonly used in American English to describe causing or igniting something. It can refer to both physical events and emotional reactions. It is a versatile phrase that can be used in various contexts. Additionally, there are related idioms such as "set off", "kick off", "touch on", and "torque off" that are similar in meaning and usage. Mastering these idiomatic expressions can help you improve your language skills and effectively communicate in English.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "touch off" can be used in a sentence:

  • The controversial tweet touched off an intense debate on social media.
  • The assassination of the political leader touched off widespread protests throughout the country.
  • The accidental discharge of a firearm touched off panic among the crowd.

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