Ever Notice How Many Words and Expressions Are Shooting Related?

By: Teresa Mull

Guns are a huge part of American culture, right down to the way we speak. Have you ever noticed how many words and expressions we use that are firearm related?

Here’s a quick list we came up with (and definitions from Comment below if you can think of more!


safe from failure; without errors or shortcomings and beyond criticism

Lock, stock, and barrel:

including everything; completely.

A big shot:

an important or influential person.

With guns blazing:

used figuratively with respect to forceful effort

Dodged a bullet:

to have a narrow escape; to avoid injury, disaster, or some other undesirable situation.


to have an intense emotional or physical reaction, such as a panic attack, after encountering a trigger

Take a shot (at something):

try to do something; to attempt to do something

Stick to your guns:

refuse to compromise or change, despite criticism

Bite the bullet:

decide to do something difficult or unpleasant that one has been putting off or hesitating over

Teresa Mull ( is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.

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