Quick On The Draw


1. The phrase quick on the draw means to respond fast to something, such as a question.

Example: A teacher showed his class a picture of a plant and asked if they could identify it. James immediately raised his hand and answered correctly, so his teacher said: “You were quick on the draw with your answer; it seems you know a thing or two about plants.”

2. Someone who is capable of swiftly taking their gun out of its holster and ready it for shooting.

In terms of “fast response”:
1. Leap into action

The Origin of ‘Quick On The Draw’

The word ‘draw’ in this phrase refers to taking out a weapon from its holster and preparing it to fire. So, for instance, if a police officer was quick on the draw, that would mean he is fast at taking his handgun out and readying it to shoot.

This saying goes back to at least the late 19th century. For example, in the The Salt Lake Tribune, November 1890:

“Nobody wants to quarrel with Mr. Naglo. I am told by Arizona acquaintences that he’s particularly quick on the draw. More than that he’s a two-handed shooter.”

As you can see from the quote, this expression was used in relation to guns and it still is today. However, the earliest I could find the phrase with its ‘doing something quickly’ meaning is in the 1930s. For example, here is a quote from the Cumberland Evening Times, June 1936:

“Each coin is individually treated, stamped from polished discs with shining, new dies, and closely scrutinized for flaws. Collectors, it is said, are ‘quick on the draw’ when it comes to spotting the most microscopic of flaws.”

So this phrase is at least 130 years old.

Example Sentences

Here is an example of this phrase in a sentence:

  • The lifeguard jumped into the water after noticing someone in danger; he was quick on the draw to help.

Similar Example:

  • When Jane saw smoke coming from her neighbor’s house, she leapt into action and called for help.

Tip: If you want to see more common phrases and sayings, well, there are more of them on here. To find them, just use the menu at the top. You will be taken to a list of sayings after choosing a letter.