a smoothbore gun for firing small shot 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.
of, pertaining to, used in, or carried out with a shotgun: a shotgun murder; shotgun pellets.
covering a wide area in an irregularly effective manner without concern for details or particulars; tending to be all-inclusive, nonselective, and haphazard; indiscriminate in choice and indifferent to specific results: He favored the shotgun approach in his political attacks.
seeking a desired result through the use or inclusion of a wide variety of elements.
having all the rooms opening one into the next in a line from front to back: shotgun apartment; shotgun cottage.
gained or characterized by coercive methods.
verb (used with object), shotgunned, shotgunning.
to fire a shotgun at.
ride shotgun,
(formerly) to ride atop a stagecoach as a shotgun-bearing guard.
to protect or keep a watchful eye on something: riding shotgun over the nation's economy.

1770–80, Americanism; shot1 + gun1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shotgun (ˈʃɒtˌɡʌn)
1.  a.  a shoulder firearm with unrifled bore designed for the discharge of small shot at short range and used mainly for hunting small game
 b.  (as modifier): shotgun fire
2.  American football an offensive formation in which the quarterback lines up for a snap unusually far behind the line of scrimmage
3.  chiefly (US) involving coercion or duress: a shotgun merger
4.  chiefly (US) involving or relying on speculative suggestions, etc: a shotgun therapy
vb , -guns, -gunning, -gunned
5.  (US) (tr) to shoot or threaten with or as if with a shotgun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1828, Amer.Eng., from shot in the sense of "lead in small pellets" (1770) + gun. As distinguished from a rifle, which fires bullets. Shotgun wedding first attested 1927, Amer.Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with shotgun, also see ride shotgun.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
It was clear to the birds that if two went into the barn and one came out,
  somebody was still inside with the shotgun.
When he's done riding shotgun, he takes a nap in the back.
It reminded me of using a shotgun to open a can of peaches.
My question was whether this would be a shotgun approach.
Idioms & Phrases
Image for shotgun
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