Expressions: “Shotgun”

Sometimes in tv shows or movies, or if you visit an English speaking country you might hear the phrase:

“I call shotgun.”

This means that the speaker wants to sit in the passenger seat of the car (beside the driver).  This is used when there are several passengers and the person doesn’t want to get stuck sitting in the back seat.

This idiom comes from the days of cowboys when a guard holding a shotgun used to ride beside the driver of a stagecoach (horse drawn carriage) to offer protection.

Since “shotgun” is usually a comfortable seat, the game of “calling shotgun” can get very competitive.

There are two rules:

  1. You must say “shotgun” loud enough for other people to hear you.
  2. The car must be within sight.

Some comedians make jokes about this game:


In this tweet the comedian called shotgun and got the privilege of riding in the passenger seat, but since it was a limo that actually wasn’t a good seat.


And sometimes comedians take a more literal definition of the word:

In this one the friend is disappointed that the man called shotgun and won the front seat “Oh but you had it on the way here.” and then the two friends are both surprised to see it is a real shotgun.

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