Guns, as we know, are pervasive in American culture. Unsurprisingly, they also pervade our everyday language. For my July Visual Thesaurus column—my parting shot, so to speak, after 16 years—I explore some of the idioms and metaphors borrowed from firearms, from riding shotgun to bullet train to firing line.
As always, full access is limited to subscribers for three months. Here’s a free sample, and keep reading for an explanation of why this is my parting shot:
Following the June 24, 2022, US Supreme Court decision overturning federal abortion protections, some American states implemented trigger laws that limited or banned abortion within their jurisdictions. A trigger law is unenforceable when it’s passed, becoming enforceable only after one legal factor is changed, “triggering” the law’s implementation. A trigger warning is a statement that alerts a reader or viewer to the presence of content that may “trigger” distress; the term’s first published use, according to the OED, was in the title of a September 1993 Usenet group post: “possible movie trigger warning.” Trigger finger is a nickname for a medical condition in which a finger (or, frequently, thumb) becomes stuck in a bent position as though it were pulling on a gun’s trigger. The condition, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is caused by inflammation around the tendon in the affected finger.
Read the rest of Shoot! How Gun Idioms Color Our Speech.
Guns and gun-related lingo are also popular in branding. (In the column, I cover Quaker cereals’ long-running “shot from guns” ad campaign.) Here are a few examples of brand names borrowed from firearms: