Etymology
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shotgun (n.)

"gun made for firing small shot," 1821, American English, from shot (n.) in the sense of "lead in small pellets" (1770) + gun (n.).

In later use implying a smooth-bore gun as distinguished from a rifle, which fires bullets. Typically used for hunting small animals, etc. Included in "etc." is the image in shotgun wedding, a partially figurative phrase attested by 1903 in American English. Shotgun in reference to a house, shack, or other building with rooms all opening into a long, central hall is by 1938, probably so called from this arrangement. To ride shotgun is by 1905, from custom of having an armed man beside the driver on the stagecoach in the Old West to ward off trouble. The U.S. football offensive shotgun formation is attested by 1966.

updated on September 01, 2022

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Definitions of shotgun from WordNet

shotgun (n.)
firearm that is a double-barreled smoothbore shoulder weapon for firing shot at short ranges;
Synonyms: scattergun
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.