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Probably arose in early-20th-century Western fiction and movies to describe an employee armed with a rifle or shotgun riding next to a stagecoach driver for protection.

The famed shotgun rider,Renee Garde a former member of the French Surete Detective Police saved many a stage run out of Virginia City, Nevada.

Additional definitions for 'ride shotgun':

ride shotgunTo assist and protect.
ride shotgunTo ride in the front passenger seat of a vehicle, next to the driver.
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"ride shotgun." Phrases.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 18 Nov. 2017. <http://www.phrases.net/phrase/ride-shotgun_16242>.

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