I call shotgun!

My question is, why do I call it shotgun?

What is the origin of this term for the passenger side of an automobile?

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work… I want to achieve it through not dying.”
– Woody Allen

Front seat outside is where the shotgun guard sat on a stage coach.

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I’ve heard that it comes from riding in wagons or whatnot and having someone sitting next to the driver with a shotgun in case of bandits or Indians, etc.


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Hmph, only 60 seconds ahead of me. :slight_smile:

Historically, it’s the passenger’s duty to fend off robbers and such with a scattergun. I believe the term originated in the days of the stagecoach. The driver cannot be expected to maintain control of the vehicle while simultaneously killing the bad guys, thus this job falls to the guy in the seat next to him.

Incidentally, you must also orchestrate the radio presets/cassettes/CD’s and point out both officers of the law and members of the opposite sex.

Damn. I’ve got to learn to post faster.

Don’t worry, Dead Flowers, you may have been third chronologically, but I think you explained it best!

Funny you should mention it - there’s a car commercial where the guy calls “shotgun” and then rides in the backseat!

I was very confused. Where I come from, if you had 3 people in a car, the lone guy in the backseat was “riding Amish.”

Where I grew up, if you ride three in the front, the middle passenger is “riding cowboy”. This is because the guy who rides in the passenger seat closest to the passenger door has to get out to open and close the gates to all of the fences encountered on the journey through the back forty.

The guy in the middle is the true cowboy, bright enough to sit in the middle and not have to open/close the gates.

Where I’m from, If you have a bench seat and three people are riding in front the guy in the middle is said to be riding “bitch”. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing.

In texas, riding in the middle is riding ‘bitch’. something to do with the hump, maybe.

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I can confirm that driver-bitch-shotgun is a prevalent scheme in the middle Great Plains.

Come to kindly terms with your ass, for it bears you.

Bitch, for us, is the middle of the back seat. Because I’m so short, I always end up bitch…sigh

We also have the “sitting bitch” phenomenon here in CT, which of course refers to sitting in the middle seat of a bench seat (either the front or the rear).

Here in KC, bitch is the front middle, in a truck. I’ve never ridden in a car with a front bench, at least not in the stage of my life where I learned cuss words.


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

I’m guessing that “I call shotgun!” is the origin of the interjection “Shotgun!”, which around here is synonymous with “Dibs!”

What I want to know is, what is the origin of “Dibs!”?

A curious sub-phenomena around here is that the calling of “shotgun” must be accompanied by “…no joust.” If someone is unaware of, or forgets about, the “joust clause” and only calls “shotgun,” someone else may call “joust,” at which point the two have to do Paper, Rock, Scissors (best 2 of 3) to determine who gets shotgun.
Also, you cannot call “shotgun” until all potential riders are outside and can see the car.
Has anyone besides me ever rode shotgun because they in fact weregoing to be shooting a gun? All we ever shot at were signs and shit and we were in the middle of nowhere so it was not too big a deal.

The only one of those terms I’ve ever heard, in California, was ‘shotgun’ for the middle of a pickup seat. I assumed that that position, with only two persons in the truck, was used to mount their shotguns. Haven’t I seen guns mounted there?



Yeah, I have rode shotgun with a shotgun in hand. The meat of the redneck social season (deer season) is coming up in a couple of weeks and I expect there will be lots of this type of thing going on around here. This is illegal of course, but that doesn’t seem to stop much of anyone. We always joke about the one foot on the ground rule.

Tenacious, like a coonhound tracking a poodle in heat.

I thought ‘riding bitch’ referred to a passenger on a motorcycle?

Ranger Jeff
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