[ shot-guhn ]
/ ˈʃɒtˌgʌn /


a smoothbore gun for firing small shots to kill birds and small quadrupeds, though often used with buckshot to kill larger animals.
Football. an offensive formation, designed primarily for passing situations, in which the backfield is spread out with the quarterback positioned a few yards behind the center and the other backs, as potential pass receivers, positioned as slotbacks or flankers.


verb (used with object), shot·gunned, shot·gun·ning.

to fire a shotgun at.

Idioms for shotgun

    ride shotgun,
    1. (formerly) to ride atop a stagecoach as a shotgun-bearing guard.
    2. to protect or keep a watchful eye on something: riding shotgun over the nation's economy.

Origin of shotgun

An Americanism dating back to 1770–80; shot1 + gun1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shotgun

British Dictionary definitions for shotgun

/ (ˈʃɒtˌɡʌn) /


  1. a shoulder firearm with unrifled bore designed for the discharge of small shot at short range and used mainly for hunting small game
  2. (as modifier)shotgun fire
American football an offensive formation in which the quarterback lines up for a snap unusually far behind the line of scrimmage


mainly US involving coercion or duressa shotgun merger
mainly US involving or relying on speculative suggestions, etca shotgun therapy

verb -guns, -gunning or -gunned

(tr) US to shoot or threaten with or as if with a shotgun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with shotgun


In addition to the idiom beginning with shotgun

, also see

  • ride shotgun


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.