Jumping the gun

Another sports idiom – they all seem to be: to jump the gun. This one traces to track and field events, specifically races where a starter gun is used to indicate the official start of the the race.  In this context jumping the gun literally refers to starting the race before the starter gun has been fired.  In sports you might get disqualified for that.

Don't jump the gun, in a race and in life

Figuratively “jumping the gun” conveys much of the same meaning: it means to start something before it should be started or to draw a premature conclusion before all the facts are known. It does not necessarily imply that the conclusions drawn will turn out to be wrong, just that they weren’t based on reliable facts.  The phrase can be used in a way that implies that the prematurely drawn conclusion might be overly pessimistic.

It is a useful idiom used both in casual conversation and in business.

Usage examples are:

Fire Department official: “We do not want to jump the gun by making a statement about what caused the explosion before the investigation is completed.”

Search and rescue team: “Let’s not jump the gun and assume that the skiers were killed by the avalanche, they could have found shelter before the avalanche was triggered.  In that case we’ll find them.”

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