Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shot n.1

1. [mid-16C+] money, esp. an amount that is due to be paid or one’s share of it, e.g. at a tavern; also attrib.

2. [early 17C+] an ejaculation; an act of sexual intercourse [shoot v. (1a)].

3. in senses of (negative) speech.

(a) [early 19C+] (US, also shoot) a sneering remark, aimed at another person with the express purpose of wounding them.

(b) [mid-19C] (US) any form of remark.

(c) [1980s+] (US prison) a disciplinary report.

4. [mid-19C] a corpse that has been disinterred by body-snatchers for the purpose of selling it to a medical school [spec. ety. unknown].

5. in senses of a chance, attempt, a number [SE shoot (at a target)].

(a) [mid-19C+] an opportunity, a chance, an attempt, a guess.

(b) [late 19C+] anything that has a reasonable chance of success; usu. preceded by a qualifying figure indicating the odds against, e.g. ten to one shot.

(c) [1940s+] (Aus./US) one’s preference, style or choice.

(d) [1960s] (US campus) attendance at a party, movie, sporting match etc.

6. in senses of measure, amount.

(a) [late 19C+] a measure of liquor; usu. with the drink specified, e.g. a shot of rum.

(b) [20C+] (drugs) an injection, or dose, of a narcotic drug.

(c) [20C+] (drugs) the amount of a drug required to get a user intoxicated.

(d) [1910s+] any form of injection.

(e) [1960s+] a fig. injection.

Pertaining to drink

In compounds

shot-clog (n.)

[17shoC] a fool who is tolerated only because of their willingness to pay their share for drinks.

shot-house (n.)

[late 19C; 1970s+] (US) an illegal drinking establishment where drink is sold in nips or small (orig. half-pint) measures.

In phrases

pay one’s shot (v.) (also pay the shot)

1. [late 17C+] to pay one’s share.

2. see also sl. phrs. above.

Pertaining to drugs

In compounds

ten-shot (n.)

[2010s] (UK black/drugs) a £10 bag of marijuana.

In phrases

pin shot (n.)

[1920s–50s] an injection of a narcotic using a rudimentary ‘syringe’ made of a pin or needle and an eye-dropper.

point shot (n.)

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) an injection using a makeshift ‘needle’ made of a pin and a medicine dropper.

shot in the arm (n.)

1. [1920s+] a narcotics injection.

2. see also SE phrs. below.

skin shot (n.) (also skin)

[1930s+] (drugs) an injection of a narcotic that is made into the skin, rather than a specific vein; thus skin-shooter n., one who injects.

Pertaining to sexual intercourse

In compounds

shot-locker (n.) [into which goes or from where comes a shot] [20C+] (US)

the penis.

In phrases

bust a shot (v.)

[1970s+] usu. of a man, to reach orgasm.

double-shot (n.)

[1970s+] two ejaculations of semen during a single bout of intercourse.

get a shot away (v.)

[2000s] (N.Z.) to ejaculate.

give someone a shot (v.) (also pay someone the shot)

[19C+] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

pay the shot (v.)

1. [17C] to have sexual intercourse.

2. see also SE phrs. below.

shot between wind and water (n.) (also shot ’twixt wind and water) [naut. jargon betwixt wind and water, that part of a ship’s side that is sometimes above water and sometimes submerged, in which part a shot is particularly dangerous]

[mid-17C–19C] an act of sexual intercourse, from the perspective of the man.

shot on the swings (n.) [ety. unknown; ? the movements of the two bodies]

[1940s+] (Scot.) sexual intercourse.

straight shot (n.)

[1970s+] (US black) sexual intercourse without contraception.

Other senses

In phrases

cheap shot (n.)

see separate entries.

get a shot of leg (v.) [SE leg]

[1970s+] (US black) to have sexual intercourse.

have a shot at (v.)

1. [early 19C+] (Aus.) to make a sneering remark in someone’s direction, to try to provoke.

2. [late 19C+] (also have a shot) to make an attempt, to have a try.

just the shot

[1940s+] (Aus./N.Z.) exactly what one requires.

In exclamations

that’s the shot!

[1930s+] (Aus.) a general excl. of agreement or approval.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

shot-ging (n.) [ext. ging n.1 ]

[1920s+] (Aus.) a catapult.


see separate entries.

shot pocket (n.)

[1970s] (US Und.) a special pocket adapted for secreting items that have been shoplifted.

shot-rodder (n.)

[1950s] (US black) one who is emotionally unstable [play on hot-rodder n.].

In phrases

by a long shot (also by a long jump)

[mid-19C+] (orig. US) by a good distance, by a considerable amount; usu. as a negative, e.g. too fast by a long shot or not by a long shot, in no way at all, by an extremely unlikely chance.

call the shots (v.)

see under call v.

do a shot on (v.) [? link to have a shot at ]

[late 19C] (S.Afr.) to cheat, to swindle.

like a shot off a shovel (adv.) [SE shot, in sense of movement of a shovelful of earth, coal, etc.; ? modern use underlined as euph. for like shit off a shovel under shit n. ]

[early 19C+] (Irish) promptly, immediately, fast.

one’s best shot (n.)

[1920s+] one’s best effort or attempt.

shot in the arm (n.) [lit. an injection]

1. [1910s+] (orig. US) anything (verbal, physical, stimulant) that cheers one up, energizes one etc.

2. see also sl. phrs. above.

shot in the dark (n.)

[mid-19C+] a wild guess, a random try; thus shoot in the dark v. to make a wild guess or try.

shot in the eye (n.)

[late 19C] a bad turn.

shots fired

[2000s+] (US) a response to a verbal attack .

take a shot (at) (v.)

1. [late 19C+] (also take one’s shot) to attack, whether physically or verbally.

2. [1970s+] to try, to make an attempt.

take one’s best shot (v.) (also shoot one’s best shot) [ult. boxing imagery]

[1930s+] (orig. US) to do the best one can, to try one’s hardest.