Title of the question says it all. This is spawned by this question I posted on Skeptics regarding the economic validity of an internet image meme regarding booze and ammunition.

So to expand on that—and better focus on the language aspect—what is the origin of the word “shot” with regards to it’s usage as someone saying “Give me a shot…” in connection to getting an alcoholic drink?

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    Shot: Another original meaning, "payment" (perhaps literally "money thrown down") is preserved in scot-free. "Throwing down" might also have led to the meaning "a drink," first attested 1670s, the more precise meaning "small drink of straight liquor" by 1928 (shot glass by 1955). (Etymonline ) etymonline.com/word/shot- See also: worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sho3.htm
    – user 66974
    Jun 12, 2018 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


(Adapted from my answer on the original Skeptics question)

The word "Shot", a corruption of the Late Old-Engish "Scot" or "Secot", itself a corruption of the old Norse "skot", was a word meaning a Tax or measure.

A serving of spirits was originally, and unimaginatively, a measure, for which "shot" was a synonym that moved into common parlance. (Also, much later, a "jigger")

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    You should add a citation for the Scot/Secot derivation.
    – Jim
    Jun 12, 2018 at 16:19

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