1. Someone who is quick on the draw is able to swiftly take their gun out of its holster and ready it for shooting.
2. A fast response to something, such as a question.
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.
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.
- When Jane saw smoke coming from her neighbor’s house, she leapt in action and called for help.