Home » Dictionary » shotgun


shotgun v. to try a variety of methods; to make repeated attempts; to take an indiscriminate approach; to be scattershot. Editorial Note: Besides the obvious “to kill or shoot with a shotgun,” a more common meaning of to shotgun is “to force or compel; to strongarm (someone),” as in a shotgun wedding. A less common meaning is “to quickly consume a canned drink, usually a beer, by making a hole in the end of the can and, with the head turned back, drinking its contents in a single attempt.” Etymological Note: As indicated by its relationship to the adjective scattershot, this verb originates by comparison to the wide spray pattern of a shotgun. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • You have completely ignored the definition in regards to seating.  “Shotgun!” is called out when more than one person is vying for the passenger seat in a car.  It refers to the seat next to the driver.  During the 1900’s,  stagecoach drivers always had a companion that sat next to him that carried a shotgun to ward off robbers.  Hence the term “Shotgun”.

  • shotgun as applied to a joint [marijuana cigarette][don’t try this at home kids]
    the smoke is expelled from the back end of the joint to the mouth of another person.

  • I have also heard the term used in reference to a method used by faith-healing televangelists who claim to be healing someone in the television audience with vaguely described symptoms that can fit any number of people.  There are bound to be several people with said symptoms who will be feeling better soon even without the ‘interdiction’ of the faith healer, who might now get the credit.

  • I have always wondered why people would sometimes say the word “shotgun” when trying to get in the passenger seat of a car; which by the way is used even in other countries where the language isn’t even english, at least here in Juarez, Mexico (where I live) I’ve heard the term in english referencing the seating description above several times, not knowing exactly why and only understanding what they ment, so personally (specially having finally found why it is used) I think it definitely shouldn’t have been ignored.

    Just an opinion.

  • Well, whatever. The custom of calling “shotgun” is well-documented elsewhere. This is not a dictionary for terms that are widespread and common.

Further reading

Mal Comune Mezzo Gaudio

Anthony in Tallahassee, Florida, shares a favorite Italian saying, Mal comune mezzo gaudio, similar in meaning to the English proverb Troubles shared...

Beefed It (episode #1580)

The words tough, through, and dough all end in O-U-G-H. So why don’t they rhyme? A lively new book addresses the many quirks of English by...

Recent posts