A tripwire is a passive triggering mechanism, usually/originally employed for military purposes, although its principle has been used since prehistory for methods of trapping game.

Typically, a wire or cord is attached to some device for detecting or reacting to physical movement. From this basic meaning, several extended and metaphorical uses of the term have developed.For example, the Berlin Brigade stationed in the divided city of Berlin during the Cold War was given the mission to be the "tripwire" for a Soviet incursion into West Germany. [ [ "...but what a tripwire we were!!!"] posted on the [ Berlin Tankers] web group 2005-08-21, retrieved June 16, 2008:

To conclude, I will again agree that we were a trip wire for World War III, but what a great tripwire we were. If an invasion had ever occurred we would have innevitably lost, but the price that the enemy wold have paid to take Berlin would have crippled them.

Military usage may designate a "tripwire" as a wire attached to one or more mines — normally bounding mines and the fragmentation type — in order to increase their activation area. Alternatively, tripwires are frequently used in boobytraps, whereby a tug on the wire (or release of tension on it) will detonate the explosives.

Soldiers sometimes detect the presence of tripwires by spraying the area with Silly String. If the string falls to the ground there are no tripwires. If there is a tripwire, the string will be suspended in the air without pulling the wire. It is being used by U.S. troops in Iraq for this purpose. [cite news | url=,9171,1561143,00.html | title=Not So Silly String In Iraq | | accessdate=2007-10-16] cite news | url= | title=A Serious Use For Silly String | publisher=CBS News | accessdate=2007-10-16] cite news | url= | title=FOX VIDEO: 'Silly String' is saving lives over in Iraq | publisher=The Raw Story | accessdate=2007-10-16] .


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  • tripwire — ☆ tripwire [trip′wīr΄ ] n. a hidden wire that will set off a trap, snare, etc. when tripped on …   English World dictionary

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  • tripwire — UK [ˈtrɪpˌwaɪə(r)] / US [ˈtrɪpˌwaɪr] noun [countable] Word forms tripwire : singular tripwire plural tripwires 1) a piece of wire that is fixed to something such as a gun or a camera and operates it when someone touches or pulls the wire 2) a… …   English dictionary

  • tripwire — [[t]trɪ̱pwaɪə(r)[/t]] tripwires also trip wire N COUNT A tripwire is a wire stretched just above the ground, which sets off something such as a trap or an explosion if someone touches it …   English dictionary

  • tripwire — /trip wuyeur /, n. 1. a wire used to set off concealed explosives, as one stretched across a footpath to be struck and activated by the foot of an enemy soldier. 2. a wire that activates a trap, camera, or other device when stepped on, tripped on …   Universalium

  • tripwire — noun a) A cord or wire arranged so that when snagged or pulled by an intruder, it will trigger a detector or trap or a device, such as a land mine. b) Any means of detecting intruders. Syn: tripline, trip cord See Also …   Wiktionary

  • tripwire — trip|wire [ˈtrıpˌwaıə US waır] n a wire stretched across the ground as part of a trap …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • tripwire — trip|wire [ trıp,waır ] noun count 1. ) a piece of wire that is attached to something such as a gun or a camera and operates it when someone touches or pulls the wire 2. ) a hidden piece of wire that is stretched just above the ground so that… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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