What is the difference between "shotgun to head" and "gunshot of head"? Are these the same thing, or there is some semantic difference?

This is in relation to suicide methods.

  • 1
    The use of "of" with gunshot is non-standard at best... I'm not sure why that site uses it. But it's worth noting that not all guns are shotguns.
    – Catija
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:05
  • 1
    To put a shotgun to someone's head: to point a shotgun at someone's head VERSUS a gunshot to the head, to shoot someone in the head. In one you are being threatened, in the other, you're dead, probably. You will see this sort of thing: "The perpetrator put a shotgun to the victim's head but did not shoot him."
    – Lambie
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:12
  • @Lambie A link was removed from the original post referencing methods of suicide, so both cases are self-inflicted.
    – Catija
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:13
  • The two expressions have different meanings. But thank you for letting me know the original reference. I was just straightening out the prepositions and expressions. What an awful site that must be. I'm glad the link was removed.
    – Lambie
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:14

Neither "shotgun to head" nor "gunshot of head" is correct English. The correct expressions are either "a shotgun to the head" or "a gunshot to the head".

However, neither is really a recommended expression when talking about to methods to commit suicide. "Gunshot to the head" is too blunt, and "shotgun to the head" is a different idiom. If the suicide was mentioned in an article in a newspaper, for example, the reporter would probably write something like:

The man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

"Gunshot to the head" is the kind of thing you read in police reports and crime novels. It lacks the kind of tact most people would use when talking about suicide. Of course, you can use this and even less polite expressions (such as, "He blew his brains out"), but you should first understand the context where they may be appropriate.

"A shotgun to the head" or, more generally, "a gun to the head", is an idiom that means "to use extreme duress to force someone to do some action". It's meant to be metaphorical, and can be used sarcastically:

I might eat broccoli if you held a gun to my head, but not otherwise.

However if you want to describe a suicide where a shotgun was used, then you could say something like:

Ketchum, Idaho, July 2--Ernest Hemingway was found dead of a shotgun wound in the head at his home here today.

  • 1
    It's worth noting that these were items in a table, not part of a sentence, so some sort of "headlinese" may be involved... the to/of is still weird, though.
    – Catija
    Apr 19 '18 at 23:30

You would usually not use "of" when speaking of a gunshot.

A gunshot to the head is actually being shot.

A shotgun to the head would just mean the gun is physically put against the person's head, as if to shoot.

  • Not in context... the shotgun to the head in this context does absolutely mean that it's been fired.
    – Catija
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:39
  • It does depend whether or not they specify that the person has been injured/ died, but without the specific context it does not sound quite right. Also, generally people would use the first one since saying shotgun refers to the gun itself Apr 19 '18 at 22:42
  • The context is in the question... it's methods of suicide.
    – Catija
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:44
  • But it would only work well if it was said "They died of a shotgun to the head," which almost sounds like they were clubbed with it Apr 19 '18 at 22:47
  • It's a table on a site that uses "of" instead of "to" ... I don't really think that it's a stellar example of the English language... consider mentioning that, as a method of suicide, it should read "Shotgun shot to the head"...
    – Catija
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:52

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