I have seen this sentence in a chat between people and I guess when they said "put a bullet" they have used it idiomatically. I am not sure about the meaning though.

A : The process is over timing
B: Putting a bullet in it. Restarting

Any help would be much appreciated.

  • just want to add that as a native English speaker I can't recall ever having heard this phrase, so it's definitely not common
    – Jonah
    Jun 20, 2016 at 23:23
  • Maybe it is an Australian idiom? I heard it in Australia
    – Maryam
    Jun 21, 2016 at 3:40

4 Answers 4


"To put a bullet" in something or someone can mean to kill the person, or end the thing. In this case, it means to terminate the "process", to stop it.

  • 8
    In Unix tradition, the colorful term "kill" is often used to mean "terminating" a "process". Indeed the name of the system call itself to send the killing (or non-killing) bullet - I mean "signal" - is named kill (man7.org/linux/man-pages/man2/kill.2.html) as well as the command to do this (man7.org/linux/man-pages/man1/kill.1.html).
    – FooF
    Jun 20, 2016 at 6:49
  • 1
    @FooF Windows has an analogous command TaskKill that is often successful. Don't get me started on how the OS sometimes fails to kill a process...
    – corsiKa
    Jun 20, 2016 at 19:27
  • Perhaps it would be worth adding that it's a reference to what happens when you shoot something with a firearm?
    – jpmc26
    Jun 20, 2016 at 22:58
  • Also see: STONITH.
    – muru
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:24

put a bullet in something

can mean to end or stop something and also

to put something out of its misery


at a bar, it can mean to add some Bulliet bourbon (pronounced the same as bullet)

(source: reservebar.com)

  • 10
    I think the first cartoon is a very good illustration of what many people think of when they hear the phrase "put a bullet into". I'd upvote this answer were it not for the bourbon part, which is nowhere near as prevalent and therefore (in my view, anyway) borders on irrelevancy.
    – J.R.
    Jun 20, 2016 at 15:52

While we are giving examples, this is my favorite:

There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada. Made a fortune.

As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him.

Later on, he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. The city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye.

The Godfather, Part 2


As an addition to the other answers, a nice usage example, in a famous poem titled Richard Cory:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

The phrase is used literally here, of course, but it's a nice poem.

This use of "put" might be not very intuitive for a novice learner. In Russian, we don't "put" a bullet, but "release" or "fire" a bullet. "Put a bullet into something" would imply (to a speaker of Russian) that we gently placed it there. With "through", it's easier to understand.

  • 1
    In Russian it's "пустить себе пулю в лоб" (to shoot oneself [dead]), isnt it?
    – Victor B.
    Jun 20, 2016 at 11:02
  • @Rompey - yes, indeed. As I typed the answer, I realized that I did not provde a good translation of the Russian expression, but my general idea was that the verb "put" might seem strange to a rookie. Indeed, in Russian it is literally "to release a bullet into one's forehead". Jun 20, 2016 at 11:04
  • 2
    Nice poem, really! And I've just found out that on YouTube, there's a song based on it -- with the same title, it was recorded in 1965 by Simon and Garfunkel.
    – Victor B.
    Jun 20, 2016 at 11:56
  • @Rompey - glad that you liked it! Jun 20, 2016 at 12:24
  • 3
    Good points; however, while the primary meaning of put may be to place something somewhere ("Please put that teacup down on the table," e.g.) there are plenty of not-as-gentle alternate meanings to this versatile word. For example: If don't want to be gentle with our words, we might put something bluntly; if we want to get our money's worth out of something, we might put it to good use; if we need to solve a difficult problem, we might put our minds to it; if we don't want to yield in an argument, we might put our foot down.
    – J.R.
    Jun 20, 2016 at 16:03

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