Dodged a Bullet – Idiom, Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Phew, I dodged a bullet there”? Of course, you have! It’s a really common saying, and it’s used in T.V. shows and movies all the time when people deal with negative situations. But what does it really mean? Is it figurative or literal? I’ll explain everything about this common phrase right here in this guide.

What’s the Meaning of Dodged a Bullet?

Dodged a Bullet Idiom Meaning Origin

In a nutshell, to “dodge a bullet” means to narrowly avoid or miss a dangerous, harmful, or just bad situation. It’s like when you’re playing dodgeball and manage to avoid a ball coming straight at your face. Here, the ball is the danger or harm, and you successfully avoided it, aka dodged a bullet.

But you can also use it figuratively, especially in a romantic situation. Like when you’re dating someone, and they turn out to be horrible, so you break up with them. Some people say that’s dodging a bullet, the bullet or danger being the person you were dating.

Origins of the Phrase Dodge a Bullet

There’s no specific origin for this idiomatic phrase, but it does come from the literal idea of dodging a bullet, usually on a battlefield or in a gunfight of some kind. When getting shot at and you narrowly miss the bullet, you’re avoiding the danger in a very literal sense.

Over time, the phrase became more popular, and we started using it metaphorically to describe any situation where we barely avoided a negative outcome.

Is Dodged a Bullet an Idiom?

Yes, “dodged a bullet” is definitely an English idiom or idiomatic phrase because we don’t generally use it in a literal sense anymore. But you can still use it literally, which wouldn’t be an idiom.

What’s Another Way to Say Dodged a Bullet?

Let’s mix things up a bit and use a different phrase to convey the same meaning as this English expression. It can add some flavor to any form of writing. So, try saying:

  • Escaped unscathed
  • Had a lucky escape
  • Narrowly miss
  • Heartstopper
  • Near hit
  • Saving your bacon

Dodge a Bullet Examples in a Sentence

Dodged a Bullet Idiom Meaning Origin 1

Let’s check out some examples of how you can use the phrase “dodged a bullet” in a sentence. Sometimes it helps to see a word or phrase in this context to better understand how we should use it.

  • I almost got caught in a huge car accident on the way to work this morning, but luckily, I took a different route than normal and dodged a bullet.
  • We were going to invest all our savings in that company, but we definitely dodged a bullet when my husband found out they were involved in a major scandal.
  • I thought I epically failed the exam, but I passed by just a single point. I really dodged a bullet there. Now I don’t have to retake the test.
  • We dated for six months, and I wanted to marry him, but after I found out she was dating three other women, I called it off and totally dodged that bullet.

Dodge Grammar Bullets!

Now you can use this idiomatic phrase in both a literal and figurative way, although figurative is the likely form as we don’t often dodge real bullets daily. I hope this quick guide helped you gain a clearer picture of how to use “dodged a bullet” properly! If you have a question about idioms, just let us know!