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See also: shot-gun


Winchester 1911 shotgun (1)
shotgun formation (4)

Alternative forms




From shot +‎ gun. Front passenger seat sense comes from ride shotgun.





shotgun (countable and uncountable, plural shotguns)

  1. (firearms) A gun which fires loads typically consisting of small metal balls, called shot, from a cartridge.
    Synonym: scattergun
    Meat was cooked up within hours after the hunter killed the deer with his shotgun.
    • 1971, Carole King, Gerry Goffin (lyrics and music), “Smackwater Jack”, in Tapestry, Ode Records:
      You can't talk to a man / With a shotgun in his hand
  2. (slang) The front passenger seat in a vehicle, next to the driver; so called because the position of the shotgun-armed guard on a horse-drawn stage-coach, wagon train, or gold transport was next to the driver on a forward-mounted bench seat. Can also be used in situations of claiming other resources such as bedrooms.
    Synonym: death seat
    I call shotgun!I claim the right to sit in the passenger seat.
    I call shotgun!I claim the right to this bedroom etc.
  3. (US, especially Southern US) A one-story dwelling with no hallways or corridors, with the rooms arranged in a straight line.
    Synonyms: shotgun house, shotgun shack
    Elvis Presley was born in a two-bedroom shotgun in Tupelo, Mississippi.
  4. (American football) An offensive formation in which the quarterback receives the snap at a distance behind the center, often with a running back set to one or both sides of him.
  5. (attributive, as a modifier) Relating to shotguns, either in a present or past sense.
    shotgun cartridges
    shotgun seat
  6. (attributive, as a modifier) Relating to the threat of force or dubious means.
    shotgun diplomacy
  7. (attributive, as a modifier) Relating to the use of numerous, diverse or indiscriminate means to achieve a particular result.
    shotgun marketing
    shotgun approach

Derived terms



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.



shotgun (third-person singular simple present shotguns, present participle shotgunning, simple past and past participle shotgunned)

  1. (slang, smoking) To inhale from a pipe or other smoking device, followed shortly by an exhalation into someone else’s mouth.
    • 2017, “Super Potent”, in Renaissance, performed by The Underachievers:
      High as fuck, I light it up / Got pre-rolls for the whole month / She don't smoke but when I roll one / We shotgun the whole blunt
  2. (transitive, informal) To verbally lay claim to (something)
    I got a day off because I shotgunned it.
  3. (transitive, baseball) To hit the ball directly back at the pitcher.
  4. (US, slang) To rapidly drink a beverage from a can by making a hole in the bottom of the can, placing the hole above one's mouth, and opening the top.
  5. (US, slang) To send out many (requests, answers to a question, etc), especially in the hope that one obtains a positive result (i.e. reveals useful information, is correct, etc), in the manner of a shotgun firing many balls of shot such that one may hit a target.
    • 2009, Writing Fiction For Dummies, →ISBN:
      An actual physical piece of paper shows that you're not just shotgunning out queries to every agent on the planet.
    • 2011 December 6, John Schwartz, “Out of a Writer’s Imagination Came an Interactive World”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      Science fiction writers are “shotgunning ideas” through their works, he said, and people tend to recall the pellets that hit the target.
    • 2013, Zack Arias, Photography Q&A: Real Questions, Real Answers, page 197:
      It's like they are on a generic mailing list and some photographer is just shotgunning cards out into the world with no thought as to who they are actually going to.
  6. (computing, slang) To employ the technique of shotgun debugging.
    • 1998, Stuart Ball, Debugging Embedded Microprocessor Systems, page 71:
      Understand the problem before fixing it. About the only scenario where shotgunning is useful is if there is a shorted IC and you cannot tell which one it is.

Further reading