I call shotgun

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Senior Member
A woman got pregnant, she still want to go for a travel. Her friends try to persuade her not to do this. Then she said:" I'll call shotgun"
does the idiom mean She want to take the seat specially prepared for persons who can't move easily?
  • Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    There are two idioms which the expression evokes:

    1. A shotgun wedding - a wedding organized because the girl has become pregnant unexpectedly.

    2. To ride shotgun - to ride on the front passenger seat of a stagecoach - immortalized by Steve McQueen's saying in The Magnificent Seven 'this is the first time I've ridden shotgun on a hearse'.

    As the girl has become pregnant the allusion to 1 is obvious.

    Scribblerr says that to call shotgun means to want to ride in the front passenger seat of a car in AE.

    In BE I have never heard the expression 'to call shotgun', and if I did, would think the person who said it wasn't a native speaker.
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    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    "To call [something]" means to stake a claim on [something]. Usually, if you are the first to "call something" in this way, it's yours. Obviously, this is an informal custom and among friends. It seems that it is an AmE usage and not common in BrE.

    Children say "I have dibs on [something]" with the same meaning.
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    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Yes, it's common in AE although I don't hear it much in CaE (although I suppose it's just a matter of time). "to call shotgun" doesn't mean to ride in the passenger seat. As Scribblerr said, it means that she wants to ride in the passenger seat - she is "calling dibbs" on "riding shotgun".


    Senior Member
    English English
    Ride shotgun is one of those AE expressions I'm acquainted with but ... if I heard it out of context (without a picture of someone pointing at the front seat of a car), I'd have to have it explained to me.
    I wonder if this is down to the relative rarity of firearms in the UK.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Riding shotgun" is another term that derives from the cowboy novels and movies that once were far more popular than they are today.

    Supposedly, back in the old days when horse-drawn stagecoaches were the mode of transportation, the driver, of course, held the rains and next to him, perched up on top of the stagecoach, was a guard, normally armed with a shotgun, riding there to protect the travelers, mail, etc. from bandits, etc.

    Thus, the expression has entered the American idiom as meaning to occupy the front passenger seat, next to the driver.

    To "call shotgun," sounds strange to me, however..


    Senior Member
    USA- English (Southern)
    To "call shotgun," sounds strange to me, however..

    This is something I just mentioned earlier in the dibs thread, but I grew up with someone inevitably "calling shotgun" anytime we got in the car. Since what you say is "I call shotgun!" it makes sense to me that the verb used in the phrase would be "call."


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    As my previous post indicates (#4), I hadn't been aware that "to call shotgun" is a fixed variation of "to call [something]."

    However, apparently it is, and Wiki's article on Riding shotgun includes an entertainingly legalistic description of the protocol of calling shotgun:
    1) The first person to yell "SHOTGUN" gets to ride in the front seat.

    [A similar procedure is used for the remaining seats.]

    3) The word "shotgun" must be loud enough to be heard by at least one witness. If no witness is to be found, or in case of a tie, the driver has the final word. After all, it is most likely his car. ....
    It also covers such contingencies as what to do when the owner is drunk and whether women are always entitled to ride in the front seat - (they aren't, except when they are) - etc.


    Senior Member
    English US
    Those are the rules of calling shotgun, as I understand them. :)

    The reason it's not common in Britain is because it is a distinctly American phrase born of our frontier history.

    I was under the impression that all native US children knew about calling shotgun, but maybe it's mostly the ones with siblings who do. It is commonly heard today on road trips, carpools, and joyrides across the land!


    English - Canada
    the rules as far as I know them:
    1) if the boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife of the owner/driver of the car is present, they automatically get the front seat.

    2) If you're above age 20 then are often more complex ways to determine who gets front seat which may override the shotgun procedure, such as who is fattest, oldest or the person who sat in the back on the last leg of the trip, ect.

    3) otherwise you can call loudly "SHOTGUN" but the car must be visible before you do so (you can't call it in the elevator).


    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    It's been fun, but I think the thread question has been thoroughly answered and we are now into chat.

    Thanks for your participation, everyone. This thread is now closed.

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