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Fig. a forced wedding. (From imagery of the bride's father having threatened the bridegroom with a shotgun to force him to marry the bride because he made her pregnant.) Mary was six months pregnant when she married Bill. It was a real shotgun wedding. Bob would never have married Jane if she hadn't been pregnant. Jane's father saw to it that it was a shotgun wedding.
An agreement or compromise made through necessity, as in Since neither side won a majority, the coalition government was obviously a shotgun wedding . This expression alludes to a marriage precipitated by a woman's pregnancy, causing her father to point a literal or figurative gun at the responsible man's head. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1900s.
n. a forced wedding, presumably because the bride is pregnant. It was a shotgun wedding, but they sure are in love.
A wedding made compulsory by bride's pregnancy. At a time and in social circles where a baby's illegitimacy stigmatized both mother and child, something had to be done, and in a hurry. As soon as his unwed daughter broke the news of her pregnancy and the father-to-be's unwillingness to marry her, the father grabbed his shotgun off the wall. With such motivation, the young man was forced to accompany the young lady to the nearest preacher or justice of the peace to make her an honest woman. The phase is sometimes used to describe business mergers made only for reasons of expediency.